chapter  1
10 Pages

Introduction

In 1917 the Soviet Union was born in a poor, largely agricultural country.1 Its predecessor, the Russian Empire, had played a role on the world stage, owing to its large population, huge land mass, and strategic location straddling Europe and Asia. But an underdeveloped economy and crumbling autocratic government had condemned preRevolutionary Russia to the position of weak relation to the dominant world powers - Britain, France, Germany, and the United States. Large factories had grown up in its western cities, a development largely propelled by infusions of West European capital. But in 1917 the Russian economy lagged far behind the dynamic capitalism of the great powers.