In This Review

Gorbachev: On My Country and the World

Gorbachev: On My Country and the World
By Mikhail S. Gorbachev, translated by George Shriver
300 pp, Columbia University Press, 1999

Mikhail Gorbachev left an imprint on the twentieth century that matches, in depth and durability, that of any other leader of the time. Once in power, he came to understand that the system he headed had to change. He also saw that fundamental change required an end to the Cold War -- and that the terms the West offered were consistent with his own country's real interests. Gorbachev may have failed to convert the Soviet Union to the democratic federation he sought in the last years of his rule, but this should not obscure his achievements. Only the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union could have destroyed that party's totalitarian rule. And among the Communist leaders of his generation who might have occupied that post, only Gorbachev had the combination of insight, courage, and political skill to remove from power the self-perpetuating clique that held his

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  • Jack F. Matlock, Jr., is George F. Kennan Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study and author of Autopsy on an Empire. He was U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991.
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