This essay reviews a recent book by Serhii Plokhii, The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union. Focusing on the role of the USSR's union-republics, especially Russia and Ukraine, in the breakup of the country, the book explains why efforts to hold the Soviet Union together ultimately proved abortive. The book, like earlier literature, debunks tenacious myths about the dissolution of the Soviet Union—myths that have been discredited before but are worth rebutting again—and provides an in-depth account of the final weeks of the USSR.

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