Not only is Secondhand Time full of terribly, grotesque anecdotes about living in a totalitarian regime (for example, one man, assigned to guard a freight car transporting people to Siberia during dekulakization, opened the door to find a "half-starved child eating his own shit as if it was kasha.") but it also contains so much rage and wonderment over the collapse of their Empire. They really did not expect it to happen. It's not like they lost a war or anything. There wasn't even an economic shock. Instead everything somehow fell apart over the course of a few months. And only then did their economy collapse. Gruesome. Makes you realize how fragile a society really is.