An exemplary biography of the Soviet Union and Russia, Taubman’s sweeping account has the amplitude of a Tolstoy novel. When Mikhail Gorbachev became its leader in March 1985, the USSR was still one of the world’s two superpowers.
By the end of his tenure six years later, the Communist system was dismantled, the cold war was over and, on 25th December 1991, the Soviet Union itself ceased to exist. While not solely responsible for this remarkable upheaval, he set decisive changes in motion.
‘Gorbachev’ shows how a dirt-poor farm boy of the Stalinist era and later a Communist Party stalwart became the USSR’s most significant reformer; how the leader of the “evil Empire” forged a peaceful partnership with the United States aimed at the idealistic goal of eliminating nuclear arms; and, finally, how Gorbachev’s reformist policies of perestroika and glasnost collapsed.
Along the way, Taubman also affords revealing cameos of world leaders from Ronald Reagan to Margaret Thatcher to West German chancellor Helmut Kohl, who once compared Gorbachev to Goebbels.