Cover image for Gorbachev--on my country and the world
Title:
Gorbachev--on my country and the world
Author:
Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeevich, 1931-
Uniform Title:
Razmyshlenii͡a o proshlom i budushchem. English
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
300 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780231115148
Format :
Book

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Central Library DK49 .G6713 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

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.


Author Notes

Born into a peasant family in the Stavropol region of southern Russia, Gorbachev witnessed the destruction of parts of his homeland by Germans in World War II. In 1952, he entered Moscow University, where he studied law and joined the Communist party. After graduating, he returned to Stavropol to work as an agricultural specialist. At the same time, he began to rise steadily in the Communist hierarchy, becoming party leader of the Stavropol region in 1970, a member of the Central Committee in 1971, a full member of the Central Communist party committee, the Politburo, in 1980, and in 1982, the right-hand man of Soviet leader and Communist party secretary Yuri Andropiv. In 1985, Gorbachev became Soviet leader and general secretary of the Communist party. His coming to power marked a historic moment in the history of the Soviet Union. No other Soviet leader had displayed the charisma, charm, sophistication, and confident personality that is Gorbachev's.

Since coming to power, Gorbachev, through his programs of "glasnost" and "perestroika", has led the reorganization of the Soviet Union's political and economic structure has allowed greater freedom and openness in the Soviet society. As part of the Soviet Union's political restructuring, Gorbachev assumed the new position of president in 1989. In 1990, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in foreign affairs - withdrawing Soviet forces from Afganistan, permitting political reforms in Eastern Europe, and easing tensions with the United States. In 1991, after a failed coup against him, he abolished the Communist party and resigned as its head. He then freed the Baltic states, after which he set up a power-sharing agreement with the remaining republics. Due in part to his efforts, the cold war was effectively ended and prospects for peace between the world's superpowers seemed greater than any time during the past 50 years.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Gorbachev's authorship alone makes this book an important text--at least for Western readers. The former secretary general (and later president) of the Soviet Union frankly discusses the USSR's deviations from socialism that led to totalitarianism and how perestroika sought to place the Soviet Union on the path of justice, democracy, and equality. In the book's most compelling section, "The Union Could Have Been Preserved," Gorbachev does not shy away from placing the blame for the collapse of the USSR (and the policy of perestroika) on Communist hardliners and on Boris Yeltsin's "intrigues." He also laments the current problems of Russia and the other countries of the former Soviet Union: the poor economies, the disintegration of social programs, and the rise in lawlessness, attributing these and many others to the end of the union. In the final section, he gives an overview of the new thinking that went on in the USSR during his tenure as boss and how this can be applied to a number of current worldwide challenges. This section also contains a solid critique of NATO and its role in Kosovo and the U.S.'s post^-cold war foreign policy. Gorbachev's take on history and his analysis of global issues are unique and provocative no matter where one stands in the political spectrum. --Frank Caso


Publisher's Weekly Review

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 triedÄnot 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

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.ÄMarcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

Mikhail Gorbachev is one of the most influential political figures of the 20th century. His personality and attitudes played a pivotal role in the dismantling of the USSR and the end of the Cold War. Thus any book by him will have some merit and interest as a historic document. In 1996 he published his Memoirs (CH, Apr'97), in which interesting anecdotes were interspersed with rather turgid reflections on his role in Soviet history. His latest book includes more reflections, without the anecdotes, and some fascinating (but fragmentary) extracts from confidential meeting reports. The first section discusses the pros and cons of the October revolution and the Stalinist regime; the second examines ethnic unrest and the breakup of the USSR; and the third presents his "new thinking" on foreign policy and its relevance for the post-Cold War world. Gorbachev makes some self-critical comments, but his recall of events is very selective. Despite the title, there is very little discussion of Russia's role in the world since 1991. Of interest to researchers and some advanced students. P. Rutland; Wesleyan University


Table of Contents

1 The October Revolution, Its Meaning and Significance
1 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 Years
4 October and the World
5 One More Balance Sheet: Something Worth Thinking About
6 October and Perestroika
7 Does Socialism Have Future?
8 Summing Up
2 The Union Could Have Been Preserved
1 A Tragic Turn of Events
2 Tbilisi.... Baku.... Vilinius
3 Toward a New Union Treaty
4 Referendum on the Union
5 The Coup-A Stab in the Back-and the Intrigues of Yeltsin
6 The Belovezh Accord: Dissolution of the USSR
7 What Lies Ahead
3 The New Thinking: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
1 The Very First Steps
2 The Conception (1985-1991)
3 Overcoming the Cold War
4 The Transitional World Order
5 The New Thinking in the Post Confrontational World
6 The Challenge of Globalization
7 The Challenge of Diversity
8 The Challenge of Global Problems
9 The Challenge of Power Politics
10 The Challenge of Democracy
11 The Challenge of Universal Human Values
12 The Beginning of History?

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