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Boris Yeltsin is one of modern history's most dynamic and underappreciated figures. In this vivid, analytical work, Herbert J. Ellison establishes Yeltsin as the principal leader and defender of Russia's democratic revolution and the embodiment of Russia's fragile new liberties, including the evolving respect for the rule of law and private property, as well as core freedoms of speech, religion, press, and political association.
In 1987, President Mikhail Gorbachev expelled Boris Yeltsin from his team of reform politicians. Yeltsin rebounded from this potentially devastating setback to become the leader of the Russian democratic movement and to create a new office of Russian president, to which he was elected. He also designed a democratic constitution for the Soviet Union that precipitated a coup attempt by traditionalist communist leaders, granted independence to the nations of the Soviet Union, and replaced Communist Party rule with democracy and the socialist economy with a market economy. In a short period, Yeltsin succeeded in becoming the first popularly elected leader in a thousand years of Russian history. He blocked violent attempts at counter-revolution and overcame powerful resistance to his reform program.
Ellison, who has devoted his career to observing and recording Russian and Soviet political life, asserts that Yeltsin's achievements rank among the most extraordinary feats of political leadership in the twentieth century. This groundbreaking book will be essential to all scholars of Russia and modern European politics.