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The Soviet Union occupies as much as one-sixth of the earth's surface and is second only to the United States in total industrial production. Its significance in the modern world, however, extends far beyond economic and military might. The country's socialist system presents an alternative to Western capitalism both in terms of ideology and organisation. This fully revised edition of the textbook first published in 1978 is designed as an introductory guide for students to the contemporary Soviet Union. 13 British scholars survey the major components of the society, including politics and science and technology, and debate the principle issues. The book begins with an examination of the geography and history of the Soviet Union before turning to the present political, social and economic system, and the efforts taken to adapt this system to the requirements of the 20th century. The authors, all specialists on the theme of their own chapters, have endeavoured to provide the basic facts and to introduce readers to major disputes and unsolved problems.

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