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Publisher's Summary

When Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union in 1985, the USSR was one of the world's two superpowers. By 1989, his liberal policies of perestroika and glasnost had permanently transformed Soviet Communism and had made enemies of radicals on the right and left. By 1990 he, more than anyone else, had ended the Cold War, and in 1991, after barely escaping from a coup attempt, he unintentionally presided over the collapse of the Soviet Union he had tried to save.

In the first comprehensive biography of the final Soviet leader, William Taubman shows how a peasant boy became the Soviet system's gravedigger, how he clambered to the top of a system designed to keep people like him down, how he found common ground with America's arch-conservative president Ronald Reagan, and how he permitted the USSR and its East European empire to break apart without using force to preserve them. Throughout, Taubman portrays the many sides of Gorbachev's unique character that, by Gorbachev's own admission, make him "difficult to understand". Was he in fact a truly great leader, or was he brought low in the end by his own shortcomings as well as by the unyielding forces he faced?

Drawing on interviews with Gorbachev himself, transcripts and documents from the Russian archives, and interviews with Kremlin aides and adversaries as well as foreign leaders, Taubman's intensely personal portrait extends to Gorbachev's remarkable marriage to a woman he deeply loved and to the family that they raised together. Nuanced and poignant yet unsparing and honest, this sweeping account has all the amplitude of a great Russian novel.

©2017 William Taubman (P)2017 Recorded Books

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Must read/listen

The insights about the Gorby times are tremendous, cant recommend this book high enough for those that want to really understand more details of how Russia and the USSR republics got where they are today.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Everything you need to know

Great book. The narrator, though, kept stumbling over pronunciation of Russian words. It should have been someone familiar with the language. Also familiar words used in English were mispronounced. For example, “forte” is not pronounced “fort “. I’d definitely get another book by this author, but hopefully with a different narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Interesting, but a bit dry.

A fascinating slice of Russian history that forever changed the world. I also loved the slices of Russian thought and culture that would rise to the surface here and there. At times however the sheer volume of facts poured in could get a bit dry.

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I learned a lot

I have long been a fan of Gorbachev and blamed Reagan and Bush for the traffic Lee's than optimal outcome of the ending of the cold war. That view hasn't changed. I more have a much deeper understanding of the difficulties faced by Gorbachev and his unwinnable situation. I recommend also listening to Body Economic by David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu to understand some of the tragic negative fallout which could have been avoided if the United States had a more sympathetic president or if Europe was stronger.

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MoscCO

No one connected with this book bothered to see the pronunciation corrected. The capitol city is mentioned over and over and over, till it finally took me down. If I had adequate vision, I would read it, I do not recommend audible;s production

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An impressive biography.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would, for the history for the most part.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Gorbachev?

Too many to choose from.

Have you listened to any of Henry Strozier’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have, just as good as the others.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Nope.

Any additional comments?

A must-have for fans of Soviet history, des;ite the original summary being about CKhrushchev, which has now been fixed.