Breslauer, George W. 1946-
BRESLAUER, George W. 1946-
PERSONAL: Born March 4, 1946, in New York, NY; son of Henry Edward and Marianne (Schaeffer) Breslauer; married Yvette Assia, August 8, 1976; children: Michelle, David. Education: University of Michigan, A.B., 1966, A.M. and certificate in Russian studies, 1968, Ph.D., 1973.
CAREER: University of California, Berkeley, acting assistant professor, 1971-73, assistant professor, 1973-79, associate professor of political science, 1979-90, Chancellor's professor, 1998—, acting chair of Center for Slavic and East European Studies, 1982-84, department chair, 1993-96, dean of social sciences, 1999—.
MEMBER: World Affairs Council, American Political Science Association, American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Sigma Alpha.
AWARDS, HONORS: American Council of Learned Societies fellowships, 1968, 1969-70; Social Science Research Council fellowship, 1969-70; National Academy of Sciences fellowship, 1970-71; Hoover Institution national fellowship, 1975-76; American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies grant, 1979; Ford Foundation grant, 1982-83; Distinguished Teaching Award, Division of Social Sciences, University of California at Berkeley, 1997.
(With Alexander Dallin) Political Terror in Communist Systems, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 1970.
(With Stanley Rothman) Soviet Politics and Society, West Publishing (St. Paul, MN), 1977.
Five Images of the Soviet Future: A Critical Review and Synthesis, Institute of International Studies, University of California (Berkeley, CA), 1978.
Khrushchev and Brezhnev As Leaders: Building Authority in Soviet Politics, Allen & Unwin (Boston, MA), 1982.
Soviet Strategy in the Middle East, Unwin Hyman (Boston, MA), 1990.
(Editor) Can Gorbachev's Reforms Succeed?, University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley CA), 1990.
(Editor, with Harry Kreisler and Benjamin Ward) Beyond the Cold War: Conflict and Cooperation in the Third World, University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley, CA), 1991.
(Editor, with Philip E. Tetlock) Learning in U.S. and Soviet Foreign Policy, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 1991.
(With others) Russia: Political and Economical Development, Claremont McKenna College (Claremont, CA), 1995.
(Editor, with Victoria E. Bonnell) Russia in the New Century: Stability or Disorder?, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 2001.
Contributor to books, including Change in Communist Systems, edited by Chalmers Johnson, Stanford University Press (Palo Alto, CA), 1970; Soviet Societyand the Communist Party, edited by Karl Ryavec, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), 1978; The Soviet Union since Stalin, edited by Stephen Cohen and others, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1980; The Soviet Union: Looking to the 1980's, edited by Robert Wesson, KTO Press (Millwood, NY), 1980; Russia at the Crossroads, edited by Seweryn Bialer and Thames Gustafson, Allen & Unwin (Boston, MA), 1982; Managing Soviet-American Rivalry, edited by Alexander George, Westview (Boulder, CO), 1982. Also contributor of book reviews to journals, including Russian Review and Dissent; contributor to other periodicals, including Problems of Communism, American Political Science Review, Slavic Review, and Soviet Studies. Member of advisory board, Abstracts of Soviet and East European Émigré Periodical Literature, 1982—. Member of editorial board, Slavic Review, 1983-85. Managing editor of international relations, Soviet Union, 1983—.
SIDELIGHTS: George W. Breslauer is Chancellor's professor at the University of California–Berkeley, where he specializes in Soviet and post-Soviet/Russian politics and foreign policy. Both his teaching and his numerous books and journal publications attest to this interest. His first title, Political Terror in Communist Systems, written with Alexander Dallin, was published in 1970, when the Soviet system was still very much alive. His 2002 book, Gorbachev and Yeltsin As Leaders, examines two of the putative fathers of post-Soviet modern Russia. In the three intervening decades, Breslauer has examined Soviet society and politics, its worldwide strategies and foreign policy, the relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the fall of the Soviet empire in almost a dozen titles.
With Political Terror in Communist Systems, he and Dallin examine the use of terror to bring about change as employed by Soviet and other communist systems. Joseph S. Roucek, writing in the Russian Review, felt the authors "supply a broad framework for analysis, multidisciplinary in approach, and provide enough illustrative detail to make their references meaningful to those studying particular communist countries." Their analysis looks at the use of terror in three stages of development of a communist polity: just after seizing power, during what is known as mobilization or the development and transformation stage, and after the end of mobilization. Robert G. Wesson, reviewing the title in the Western Political Quarterly, commented that "political scientists can only welcome the effort of Dallin and Breslauer to develop a morphology of terror in states which draw their inspiration from Marx, Lenin, and the Russian Revolution." Frederick C. Barghoorn, writing for the American Political Science Review, also had praise for Breslauer's first title, noting that its "merits … are considerable." Barghoorn went on to observe that, in spite of some inconsistencies and conceptual problems, the book "is a very valuable contribution to the difficult but much needed and still scarce literature of critical and systematic comparative analysis of communist politics."
In Soviet Politics and Society, written with Stanley Rothman, Breslauer "attempts to integrate the Soviet experience into the context of both European and Russian history and culture," according to Charles E. Ziegler in the Russian Review. Ziegler further noted that the "comparative framework adapted by the authors has produced an undergraduate textbook that stimulates the reader to recognize his cultural biases without minimizing the shortcomings of the Soviet system." More such closely detailed analysis is presented in Five Images of the Soviet Future: A Critical Review and Synthesis. Here, Breslauer reviews the work of prominent scholars on the Soviet system to analyze its long-term stability. Jane P. Shapiro, writing in Soviet Studies, found the work "a useful, well-organized—though occasionally repetitive—review of the main contemporary lines of analysis regarding the probable evolution of the Soviet system."
Breslauer takes a look at two powerful Soviet leaders in Krushchev and Brezhnev As Leaders: Building Authority in Soviet Politics, which is "an excellent and important book," according to Thane Gustafson in the Slavic Review. Here the author contrasts the leadership strategies of both men to present "not only a convincing political portrait of both … but also a valuable statement about classic problems in the study of Soviet politics." For Breslauer, the strategies of these two post-Stalin Soviet leaders in establishing authority were similar: both men sought to consolidate power through consumer satisfaction and increased participation, while at the same time maintaining a heavy commitment to the military. Carey Cavanaugh, reviewing the same title in the American Political Science Review, thought it "fills a void in the literature by taking a long view of both Soviet administrations." Cavanaugh went on to call the book an "excellent study that demands the attention of students of Soviet politics." Though noting that Breslauer's book does not focus on the role of international politics, George Liber still had high praise for it in his Political Science Quarterly review: "Breslauer's monograph is one of the best kremlinological studies published in recent years."
Breslauer turns his hand to Soviet foreign policy in Soviet Strategy in the Middle East, published at the time of the demise of the Soviet Union. Breslauer demonstrates that Soviet policy has been consistent in the Middle East, sometimes in cooperation and at others in conflict with U.S. interests in the region, and that it is determined not so much by ideology as by realistic geo-politics. Jonathan Haslam found this line of inquiry "a fruitful approach" in an International Affairs review.
Breslauer acted as editor for Learning in U.S. and Soviet Foreign Policy, a gathering of essays on policies toward Europe, the Middle East, and China. "There is much valuable material here," observed Brian Holden Reid in International Affairs. "But the book's assumptions are now dated" with the fall of the Soviet Union. Such concerns did not bother Lloyd S. Etheredge, however. Writing in the American Political Science Review, Etheredge said the book was a "timely collection [that] defines learning as a rigorous concept and applies it to return engagements with similar issues in American and Soviet foreign policy across the past forty-five years." Choice critic L. S. Hulett thought the same work was an "impressive compilation…. Rarely do edited volumes have the coherence one finds here."
Breslauer moves into the post-Soviet era with Dilemmas of Transition in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, a gathering of essays on the changeover from communism to new forms of government. Breslauer also serves as editor of Russia in the New Century: Stability or Disorder?, a collection of fourteen articles providing a "multidimensional analysis of Yeltsin's Russia," according to Y. Polsky in Choice. And with Gorbachev and Yeltsin As Leaders, Breslauer reprises a format he earlier employed in his analysis of Krushchev and Brezhnev. In this book, however, his approach is somewhat different: he focuses more on "personalities and beliefs" of the two leaders, as Mark Kramer noted in the Political Science Quarterly. These two were transitional leaders, according to Breslauer, Gorbachev being the final leader of the old Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991, and Yeltsin the first president of Russia from 1991 to 1999. "While Breslauer gives credit to both Gorbachev and Yeltsin for their roles in the introduction and development of democratization," wrote Peter J. S. Duncan in the Times Literary Supplement, "he is critical of both for their roles in the use of violence against dissident republics." The author also contends, contrary to much popular opinion, that the Soviet Union collapsed not because of outside pressures but because of Gorbachev's own personal vision. For Kramer, Breslauer's book "offers a first-rate account of the crucial roles that Gorbachev and Yeltsin played in the tumultuous final years of the Soviet regime and the initial years of the new Russian Federation." Similarly, Dmitri G. Baluyev, writing in Europe-Asia Studies, found it a "well-written book on the nature of political leadership in post-Soviet Russia," and one "accessible even for nonspecialists."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Political Science Review, March, 1973, Frederick C. Barghoorn, review of Political Terror in Communist Systems, pp. 224-225; March, 1984, Carey Cavanaugh, review of Khrushchev and Brezhnev As Leaders: Building Authority in Soviet Politics, pp. 247-248; September, 1992, Lloyd S. Etheredge, review of Learning in U.S. and Soviet Foreign Policy, pp. 838-839.
Choice, April, 1992, L. S. Hulett, review of Learning in U.S. and Soviet Foreign Policy, p. 1864; June, 2001, Y. Polsky, review of Russia in the New Century: Stability or Disorder?
Europe-Asia Studies, November, 2001, Lyudmila Ivankova, review of Russia in the New Century, pp. 1118-1119; March, 2003, Dmitri G. Baluyev, review of Gorbachev and Yeltsin As Leaders, pp. 314-316.
International Affairs, winter, 1983-1984, John F. N. Bradley, review of Khrushchev and Brezhnev As Leaders, p. 146; April, 1991, Jonathan Haslam, review of Soviet Strategy in the Middle East, pp. 369-370; October, 1992, Brian Holden Reid, review of Learning in U.S. and Soviet Foreign Policy, pp. 716-717.
Library Journal, May 1, 2002, Harry Willems, review of Gorbachev and Yeltsin As Leaders, p. 116.
Nation, May 26, 2003, Robert D. English, review of Gorbachev and Yeltsin As Leaders, p. 29.
Political Science Quarterly, autumn, 1983, George Liber, review of Khrushchev and Brezhnev As Leaders, pp. 513-514; fall, 2003, Mark Kramer, review of Gorbachev and Yeltsin As Leaders, pp. 503-508.
Russian Review, April, 1971, Joseph S. Roucek, review of Political Terror in Communist Systems, pp. 203-204; January, 1979, Charles E. Ziegler, review of Soviet Politics and Society, pp. 110-111.
Slavic Review, winter, 1984, Thane Gustafson, review of Khrushchev and Brezhnev As Leaders, pp. 683-685.
Soviet Studies, September, 1979, Jane P. Shapiro, review of Five Images of the Soviet Future: A Critical Review and Synthesis, pp. 494-495; October, 1983, Ferenc Feher, review of Khrushchev and Brezhnev As Leaders, pp. 596-572; winter, 1992, Gordon B. Smith, review of Dilemmas of Transition in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, pp. 858-859.
Times Literary Supplement, February 21, 2003, Peter J. S. Duncan, review of Gorbachev and Yeltsin As Leaders.
Western Political Quarterly, December, 1970, Robert G. Wesson, review of Political Terror in Communist Systems, pp. 885-887.
University of California, Berkeley, http://www.polisci.berkeley.edu/ (February 8, 2004).*