Mikhail Gorbachev is the man who changed everything. It was Gorbachev's initiative that raised the Iron Curtain; his actions that resulted in one of the era's most symbolic events, the demolition on the Berlin Wall; his reforms that set in train events leading to the fall of Communism. Twelve years ago, when Gorbachev came to power, the globe was still divided into two armed camps, one for each superpower - as it had been ever since 1945. The Cold War dominated international politics, from Angola to Afghanistan. The man who became leader of the Soviet Union in 1985 was much younger than his predecessors, yet there was little else to distinguish him from the stony-faced apparatchiks waving from the Kremlin. He seemed a model Communist, ideologically committed to socialism, raised wholly within the confines of the Party. Yet Gorbachev realized that the system could not continue. What was it about this man which enabled him to see so much more clearly than his colleagues? Like most who start a revolution, Gorbachev has been left behind. No longer in power, he has been forced to endure criticism from those wise after the event - most notably Boris Yeltsin, who became undisputed leader after the failed military coup that finally displaced Gorbachev from office. In these memoirs, Gorbachev reveals his feelings about the sad state of his country today. He tells us of his childhood in the North Caucasus during the Second World War, of coming to Moscow as a student and meeting Raisa Maksimovna, of his glittering career as a Party functionary, eventually becoming one of the most powerful men in the world. This is a historical document of the first importance. It is also a fascinating human story, an insider's account of the events that we never dared believe could happen.
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Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev was born in the North Caucasus in 1931. He worked as a machine operator on a collective farm before studying law at Moscow University and joining the Communist Party in 1952. He became General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1985, President of the USSR in 1990, and resigned, following the August coup, in December 1991. He is now President of the International Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies (the Gorbachev Foundation). He lives in Moscow.
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