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Gorbachev: On My Country and the World

Overview

Here is the whole sweep of the Soviet experiment and experience as told by its last steward. Drawing on his own experience, rich archival material, and a keen sense of history and politics, Mikhail Gorbachev speaks his mind on a range of subjects concerning Russia's past, present, and future place in the world. Here is Gorbachev on the October Revolution, Gorbachev on the Cold War, and Gorbachev on key figures such as Lenin, Stalin, and Yeltsin.

The book begins with a look back ...

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Gorbachev: On My Country and the World

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Overview

Here is the whole sweep of the Soviet experiment and experience as told by its last steward. Drawing on his own experience, rich archival material, and a keen sense of history and politics, Mikhail Gorbachev speaks his mind on a range of subjects concerning Russia's past, present, and future place in the world. Here is Gorbachev on the October Revolution, Gorbachev on the Cold War, and Gorbachev on key figures such as Lenin, Stalin, and Yeltsin.

The book begins with a look back at 1917. While noting that tsarist Russia was not as backward as it is often portrayed, Gorbachev argues that the Bolshevik Revolution was inevitable and that it did much to modernize Russia. He strongly argues that the Soviet Union had a positive influence on social policy in the West, while maintaining that the development of socialism was cut short by Stalinist totalitarianism. In the next section, Gorbachev considers the fall of the USSR. What were the goals of perestroika? How did such a vast superpower disintegrate so quickly? From the awakening of ethnic tensions, to the inability of democrats to unite, to his own attempts to reform but preserve the union, Gorbachev retraces those fateful days and explains the origins of Russia's present crisis.

But Gorbachev does not just train his critical eye on the past. He lays out a blueprint for where Russia needs to go in the next century, suggesting ways to strengthen the federation and achieve meaningful economic and political reforms. In the final section of the book, Gorbachev examines the "new thinking" in foreign policy that helped to end the Cold War and shows how such approaches could help resolve a range of current crises, including NATO expansion, the role of the UN, the fate of nuclear weapons, and environmental problems.

Gorbachev: On My Country and the World reveals the unique vision of a man who was a powerful actor on the world stage and remains a keen observer of Russia's experience in the twentieth century.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs

We find passages of perceptive analysis that we should not ignore.

Booklist (starred review)

Gorbachev's authorship alone makes this book an important text.... [His] take on history and his analysis of global issues are unique and provocative no matter where one stands in the political spectrum.

Booklist
Gorbachev's authorship alone makes this book an important text.... [His] take on history and his analysis of global issues are unique and provocative no matter where one stands in the political spectrum.
Katherine A. S. Sibley
Gorbachev starts his book with a conventional summary of Russian history since 1917 (the October Revolution, he tells us in pedantic italics, was “inevitable”), continues with a more compelling, if highly self-congratulatory, survey of the era of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (reconstruction); and concludes with a mushy set of pronouncements on global problems that seem to be the gleanings of the aforementioned meetings at his Foundation.

In his historical survey, otherwise unexceptional, we are introduced to a Lenin who exercised himself over “problems of democracy,” an assertion that may surprise those who remember reading of the First Bolshevik’s summary executions. Suggestive of previous training is Gorbachev’s penchant to cite Lenin’s Collected Works chapter and verse. This gentle soul is contrasted most sharply with Stalin, whose excesses must not, we are reminded, serve as an argument that socialism is unworkable. Indeed, despite such Stalinesque excesses, Gorbachev argues, the Soviet Union offered an example for the world with its social welfare, literacy, and scientific achievements, all of which encouraged decolonization as Third World countries clamored to follow in its footsteps.
American Diplomacy
Archie Brown
A wide-ranging and interesting book.
Foreign Affairs
We find passages of perceptive analysis that we should not ignore.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In these three essays, the former Soviet leader discusses the 1917 revolution, the Soviet Union and its demise, and international relations He feels that a 1917 revolution in Russia was inevitable, although subsequent mistakes by Soviet leaders turned the result into something less than the ideal Socialist state, in which he clearly still believes. The second part is most like his previous books, including Memoirs and The August Coup, in being his own account of his own time. He details at considerable length the 1991 efforts to negotiate and ratify a Union treaty among the republics and the numerous advantages that a formal federation would have brought to all. The third section emphasizes international relations now that the confrontation of the Cold War has ended and a New World Order is emerging. While the shape of that order cannot be predicted, Gorbachev optimistically looks forward to greater emphasis on human rights and values in a better world. This title will appeal primarily to an informed audience.--Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Gorbachev, former General Secretary Treasurer of the Soviet Communist Party and the last significant President of the Soviet Union, reflects on the past, present, and future of his homeland. Divided into sections on the October Revolution, the 1991 breakup, and future prospects, Gorbachev concludes that the U.S.S.R. was a totalitarian system but that the break up of the union was a tragedy that should have been avoided. He also discusses the current state of Russia and how it should relate to such events as NATO's bombing in Yugoslavia. Translated from the Russian work . Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231115155
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 9/29/2000
  • Pages: 300
  • Sales rank: 683,585
  • Lexile: 1260L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.01 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 1985-1991, and President of the Soviet Union, 1988-1991, currently heads the Gorbachev Foundation in Moscow and lectures widely. He is also the author of Perestroika and Soviet-American Relations, The Search for a New Beginning: Developing a New Civilization, and The August Coup: The Truth and the Lessons.George Shriver has translated and edited many books, including Nikolai Bukharin's How It All Began: The Prison Novel and Roy Medvedev's On Soviet Dissent, The October Revolution, Let History Judge, and Post-Soviet Russia (all published by Columbia).

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

1. The October Revolution, Its Meaning and Significance1. A Blunder of History, Accident or Necessity?2. Was Socialism Built in the Soviet Union?3. Let's Not Oversimplify! A Balance Sheet of the Soviet Years4. October and the World5. One More Balance Sheet: Something Worth Thinking About6. October and Perestroika7. Does Socialism Have Future?8. Summing Up2. The Union Could Have Been Preserved1. A Tragic Turn of Events2. Tbilisi.... Baku.... Vilinius3. Toward a New Union Treaty4. Referendum on the Union5. The Coup--A Stab in the Back--and the Intrigues of Yeltsin6. The Belovezh Accord: Dissolution of the USSR7. What Lies Ahead3. The New Thinking: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow1. The Very First Steps2. The Conception (1985-1991)3. Overcoming the Cold War4. The Transitional World Order5. The New Thinking in the Post Confrontational World6. The Challenge of Globalization7. The Challenge of Diversity8. The Challenge of Global Problems9. The Challenge of Power Politics10. The Challenge of Democracy11. The Challenge of Universal Human Values12. The Beginning of History?

Columbia University Press

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