'Gorbachev' Is A Gripping, Sympathetic And Detailed Portrait

In Gorbachev: His Life and Times, biographer William Taubman makes a convincing case that the former Soviet leader's decency — the word appears throughout the book — is key to understanding him.

Mark Katkov is an editor at NPR. He was the CBS News Moscow Bureau producer during the Gorbachev and Yeltsin years.

William Taubman's extraordinary new biography, , is fly-on-the-wall history. Taubman — a political scientist at Amherst College — immersed himself in Russian and Soviet archives, memoirs and diaries. The result is an almost day-by-day, even hour-by-hour account of the one of the last century's great dramas: The Soviet Union's fitful move to democracy and ultimate collapse, told in the first

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