Why Gorbachev Happened: His Triumphs and His Failure

Robert G. Kaiser, Author Simon & Schuster $24.45 (476p) ISBN 978-0-671-73692-7
Kaiser's synthesis of the Gorbachev era lends crucial perspective. The book shows a pattern to events--breakthrough, loss of momentum, crisis, breakthough--as the Soviet president struggles to maintain political stability and initiate reforms at home and at the same time normalize relations with the rest of the world. Opinionated and authoritative, Kaiser, deputy managing editor of the Washington Post and onetime Moscow correspondent, argues that Gorbachev's reforms may do more to reveal the shortcomings of his society than to put them right, and that an ossified, rigid political culture will not readily learn democracy. And Gorbachev himself remains very much an apparatchik , notable for his partinost , or ``partyness,'' a reformer who is not always able to supress the instinctive authoritarianism that feuds with his liberalism. Among his failings, according to Kaiser, are his inability to choose the right aides, his overconfidence, his vanity, his weakness for luxury, his inability to understand issues of nationality, his economic illiteracy; but Gorbachev's ``fatal flaw'' is his perceived mandate to redeem Lenin's revolution. Kaiser expresses enormous admiration for the Soviet leader for confronting the future, yet concludes that ``the positive contributions for which Gorbachev will be remembered have all been made.'' (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Paperback - 978-0-671-77878-1
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