• From the Publisher
May 16, 2017

When Mikhail Gor­bachev became the leader of the Sovi­et Union in 1985, the USSR was one of the world’s two super­pow­ers. By 1989 he had trans­formed Sovi­et Com­mu­nism. By 1990 he, more than any­one else, had end­ed the Cold War, and in Decem­ber 1991 he unin­ten­tion­al­ly presided over the col­lapse of the USSR. In this first com­pre­hen­sive biog­ra­phy of Gor­bachev, William Taub­man shows how a peas­ant boy turned into the Sovi­et sys­tem’s grave dig­ger, why the Com­mu­nist regime allowed him to destroy it, how Gor­bachev’s dream of democ­ra­tiz­ing Rus­sia through per­e­stroi­ka and glas­nost foundered, and why he per­mit­ted East­ern Europe to aban­don Com­mu­nism with­out con­flict. Draw­ing on inter­views with Gor­bachev him­self, Russ­ian archives, inter­views with Krem­lin aides and adver­saries as well as with for­eign lead­ers, Taub­man’s intense­ly per­son­al por­trait also extends to Gor­bachev’s remark­able mar­riage to a woman he deeply loved. Nuanced and poignant yet unspar­ing and hon­est, this sweep­ing account has the ampli­tude of a Tol­stoy novel.

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