In many ways this is the most interesting memoir yet produced by a leader from the Gorbachev era. Ligachev, at the outset a supporter of Gorbachev and his plans to reform the sclerosed Soviet system, became a conservative Cassandra warning of the dangers in what he saw as the excesses of perestroika: an unfettered press, the weakening of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union as an effective political instrument, and the like. Ligachev defends with stubborn rectitude the case that he doubtless made during the last six years of Soviet power. Better yet, he describes the inside power struggle over what perestroika was to be, which, in his version, has Alexander Yakovlev playing the role of the devil. Much of this is to defend his own actions in controversial episodes, rather than to retell systematically what happened at each of the key stages in the development of perestroika. He also offers sometimes acute, sometimes clumsy insights into the failings of Gorbachev as leader. (The Russian edition is entitled The Riddle of Gorbachev.) Stephen Cohen provides a fair-minded, meaty introduction.
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