In today's Russia, nostalgia for the Soviet era is growing. Many Russians reflect wistfully on the passing of an era when the Soviet Union was a superpower, commanding international respect, and they blame its demise on external enemies and foolish changes in policy. In an address to the Russian Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin called the breakup of the Soviet Union the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. In Collapse of an Empire: Lessons for Modern Russia, however, economic reformer and former prime minister Yegor Gaidar clearly illustrates why such notions are misguided, ill informed, and dangerous. As he explains in the introduction: "My goal is to show the reader that the Soviet political and economic system was unstable by its very nature. It was just a question of when and how it would collapse."