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Gorbachev: His Life and Times Kindle Edition
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‘William Taubman has now done for Gorbachev what he had previously done for Khrushchev, giving us the full life deeply grounded in the Soviet and Russian archives, here with the added benefit of Gorbachev’s complete cooperation. Perhaps a hundred years from now, when our perspective on Russia’s role in the world has further clarified, another biography will be needed. For now, however, Gorbachev is the closest thing to the final word that history allows.’ (Joseph Ellis, author of Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation )
‘This is a meticulously researched, carefully nuanced and immensely readable biography of a remarkable, but insufficiently understood, twentieth century political leader. Taubman’s book is destined to remain the fullest and most authoritative life of Gorbachev for years to come.’ (Archie Brown, author of The Myth of the Strong Leader and The Rise and Fall of Communism )
‘Nobody before Taubman has achieved an in-depth psychological portrait…what made Gorbachev tick, as a man and a leader, has always been hooded in speculation…A highly readable, reliable and accurate work, one that will be used by all future generations of historians… This monumental biography will become the standard personal portrait, especially of the years before Gorbachev became party secretary. Taubman has charmed more out of him than any of his subordinates ever managed to.’ (Robert Service Literary Review)
‘Impressive… full of fascinating detail.’ (Peter Conradi Sunday Times)
‘Comprehensive and immensely readable.’ (The Economist)
‘Superb… [Gorbachev] thought he could save the Soviet Union and make socialism great again. In Taubman’s hands, the journey is an extraordinary story of one man and history in a tense wrestling match.’ (The Washington Post)
‘A fascinating, perceptive, and compelling account of the life of a brilliant, driven, but flawed leader… Taubman, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 2003 biography of Nikita Khrushchev, once again displays his impressive grasp of the inner workings of the now vanished communist system that made the Soviet Union, for a half century, the most powerful and deadly foe of the West… Magisterial.’ (The Boston Globe)
‘A masterpiece of narrative scholarship. It is also the first comprehensive biography of this world-historical figure. Other chronicles of Gorbachev’s life and verdicts on his record will follow, but they will be without the trove of personal insights that Taubman has gleaned from his access to Gorbachev himself, his advisers, and other participants in those dramatic years.’ (Strobe Talbott New York Review of Books)
‘Vivid and intelligent… Wonderfully cinematic narrative.’ (Neil Ascherson London Review of Books)
' ... deeply penetrating history and engrossing psychological study.' (Robert Legvold Foreign Affairs Magazine)
'An engaging, poignant portrayal of one of the most significant of Russian leaders.' (Kirkus review)
'William Taubman's Gorbachev, like his Khrushchev, is an extraordinary achievement, full of new information, filled with shrewd judgments, a two-in-a-row triumph in the writing of great lives.' (John Lewis Gaddis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of George F. Kennan: An American Life )
‘In the centenary year of the Russian Revolution, the standout biography is about the man who lowered the hammer and sickle flag. Gorbachev: His Life and Times is a fitting sequel to William Taubman’s previous biography of Nikita Khrushchev, which won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2004.’ (John Bew New Statesman)
'A phenomenally researched life of the man who did more than any other to change Europe and the world in the last half of the 20th century.' (Jonathan Steele The Guardian)--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B06XKFP455
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; Illustrated edition (September 5, 2017)
- Publication date : September 5, 2017
- Language : English
- File size : 49272 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 869 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #331,978 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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A great book about a great man.
Taubman is undoubtedly an expert in the rise and fall of the USSR and this book on Mikhail Gorbachev was enlightening and even entertaining. Gorbachev was a fascinating man who rose from the poorest of the poor to the top of the Soviet power ladder in spite of having views contrary to most of his peers. This book gave a detailed account of his life with supporting documentation and provided me with a plethora of information from which to do a research paper.
En resumen un balance ecuánime, interesante y completo del personaje histórico más influyente de fines del siglo XX.
Top reviews from other countries
The first overriding impression is that Gorbachev is -- and was as he conducted affairs while General Secretary of the CPSU and later President of the Soviet Union -- a good man. He loved his wife and family; he renounced all violence, including in many situations where states much less authoritarian than the Soviet Union might have sanctioned it. The second: as a product of the Soviet Union, and with no grounding in or knowledge of economics or free markets, Gorbachev was utterly unqualified and unprepared to implement economic change that would improve life for citizens and thereby avoid causing the country's collapse. Deng Xiaoping of China called Gorbachev an 'idiot' for 'putting the cart before the horse' i.e. implementing political reforms before the economic improvements that might have instilled patience in a repressed population. Anyway, he did the political loosening first, and the rest is history.
The whole book is good; some parts are wonderful. In particular, see the chapter 'Summits Galore' - an account of Gorbachev's zenith managing Soviet foreign policy from the Reykjavik summit in October 1986 to his great speech before the United Nations in December 1988. The factual history is familiar and well recounted. Where Mr Taubman triumphs is with expression of background detail, atmosphere and interpersonal relationships between the main protagonists. It's delicious and absorbing; see as an example how Nancy Reagan and Raisa Maksimovna Gorbacheva (didn't) get on.
In the end, it's sadness. An increasingly desperate Gorbachev, his power slipping away, seeks US and Western assistance. Realpolitik drives the US and the Europeans to 'bank' Gorbachev's concessions while giving away very little. If they had helped more, and if the August 1991 coup had thereby been avoided, and if the Novo Ogarevo Union Treaty had been signed on August 20, 1991 (when the coup had in fact supervened), we might now be living in a different world -- one including the Union of Sovereign States.
The poisonous relationship with Boris Yeltsin -- a blind-spot where Gorbachev's good judgement repeatedly failed him -- is illuminated. Gorbachev's work with that other titan, Shevardnadze, is referred to only slightly, almost in passing. Perhaps this is because the main focus of the book is Soviet domestic, rather than international, affairs.
Finally, from 1992, Gorbachev is out of power. He tries, with partial success to remain relevant, both in Russia and internationally. He is inexcusably hounded by the Yeltsin government while being partially rehabilitated by that of Putin. The tale of Gorbachev's marriage, and of his final years with his great love Raisa, is at once uplifting and heartbreaking.
This will stand for a long time as the definitive biography of a great and flawed man. It should be widely read.