In 1991, in a huge experiment with a people and in a state of euphoria, Boris Yeltsin abolished the USSR and recreated the Russian nation. At the point of its declaration it was in a state of economic and social disarray and yet there were high hopes - hopes which have subsequently been dashed. Robert Service brings to bear his vast knowledge of the people and the country to put the recent upheavals into context and he shows that not everything changed for the worst 1991. The Gorbachev years have allowed the Russian people to give a priority to living a private life and shutting the door on the state. They could think what they liked. They could enjoy intellectual and religious freedom, and indulge in recreations their income would allow. Gays and lesbians could come 'out'. The youth culture could finally be loosed from constraints. This is a broad political, social and cultural history of one of the newest nations ever to be formed.