Thirty-five years ago, Mikhail Gorbachev was named General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. “They expect a lot of Gorbachev,” Anatoly Chernyaev – a Communist Party bureaucrat and intellectual who would later become a leading adviser to Gorbachev – wrote in his journal at the time. The USSR needed “nothing less” than a “revolution from the top,” he noted. “Does Mikhail Sergeyevich understand this?”
To be sure, Gorbachev’s policies of perestroika (political and economic restructuring) and...
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