cover image Gorbachev: On My Country and the World

Gorbachev: On My Country and the World

Mikhail Gorbachev / Author, George Shriver / Translator Columb

Gorbachev, who currently heads a Moscow think tank (the Gorbachev Foundation), takes a hard look at world affairs in a memoir that showcases both the former Soviet premier's intelligence and his self-defeating idealism. He sharply warns that Russia is slipping back toward authoritarian rule with a paralyzed parliament and mass media firmly controlled by big government and oligarchs. Downplaying the role of nationalist movements in hastening the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, he acrimoniously blames its disintegration on Boris Yeltsin, whom he accuses of an irresponsible quest for power. In issuing vigorous calls for the peaceful, democratic co-development of all nations, for nuclear disarmament and for a strengthened U.N., he tries to present himself as a democratic humanist. But too often he still sounds like a die-hard Marxist-Leninist. While he condemns Bolshevik one-party rule as a colossal disaster, he assigns nearly all of the blame to Stalin and clings to the fantasy that under Lenin the Party still maintained strong democratic traditions. He upholds the idea of socialism, arguing that genuine socialism has never been tried--not in the Soviet Union, China, Cuba or elsewhere. His support of a stronger U.N., furthermore, is based at least as much on his distrust of the U.S. (he has harsh words for the NATO war on Yugoslavia) as it is on any faith in the international organization. In the end, this is the memoir of a humane man who appears never to have been able to appreciate the difference between abstraction and real life or, as a socialist might say, between theory and practice. (Nov.)