cover of book by Benjamin Nathans

Beginning in the 1960s, the Soviet Union was unexpectedly confronted by a dissident movement that captured the world’s imagination. Demanding that the Kremlin obey its own laws, an improbable band of Soviet citizens held unauthorized public gatherings, petitioned in support of arrested intellectuals, and circulated banned samizdat texts. Soviet authorities arrested dissidents, subjected them to bogus trials and vicious press campaigns, sentenced them to psychiatric hospitals and labor camps, sent them into exile—and transformed them into martyred heroes. Against all odds, the dissident movement undermined the Soviet system and unexpectedly hastened its collapse. Taking its title from a toast made at dissident gatherings, To the Success of Our Hopeless Cause (Princeton, 2024) is a definitive history of a remarkable group of people who helped change the twentieth century.

Learn more about the book.


This hybrid talk with Benjamin Nathans, with an introduction by Stephen Kotkin, will take place in the Shultz Auditorium at the Hoover Institution on the Stanford University campus at 4:30 pm PT. A reception will follow.



About the Speakers


photo Ben Nathans

Benjamin Nathans
Alan Charles Kors Endowed Term Associate Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania




photo of Steve Kotkin

Stephen Kotkin
Kleinheinz Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution; Birkelund Professor in History and International Affairs emeritus at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs


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Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Ideas Uncorked: NATO At 75: Taking Stock After The Summit
The Hoover Institution in DC hosts Ideas Uncorked on Tuesday, July 16, 2024 from 5:00–6:30 pm ET. The event will feature Rose Gottemoeller, Research… Hoover Institution in DC
Thursday, July 25, 2024 5:30 PM ET
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On Day One: An Economic Contingency Plan for a Taiwan Crisis
The China's Global Sharp Power Project at the Hoover Institution hosts the launch of On Day One: An Economic Contingency Plan for a Taiwan Crisis on… Hoover Institution in DC
Thursday, August 8, 2024 4:30 PM PT
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The Un-Presidented Speaker Series: Heath Hardage Lee
Historian, biographer, and curator Heath Hardage Lee will present on The Mysterious Mrs. Nixon: Washington’s Most Private First Lady Revealed at the… Shultz Auditorium, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
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