Valery Boldin joined Gorbachev's staff in 1981 as an adviser on agricultural questions at a time when Gorbachev was still a lowly bureaucrat. But as soom as Gorbachev's star rose, so did Boldin's. He soon became Gorbachev's right-hand man, first on the Central Committee and eventually as Chief of Staff. He was thus in an ideal position to observe the combination of baroque manoeuvring and genuine vision that propelled Gorbachev to the top. Present at the creation of perestroika - indeed, he was responsible for drafting key speeches and memoranda - he sat in on many of the most fateful meetings of the era, dealing with the Chernobyl disaster, the Afghan War, the secession of the Baltic Republics. This book tells the story of all those events. But above all, it is the story of Gorbachev himself (and Raisa) - intelligent, courageous, sometimes visionary, but also ambitious, vain and at times mean-spirited.
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian
Reproachful, revelatory recollections of a protracted G”tterd„mmerung from a former aide of the Soviet Union's last emperor. Boldin had a ringside seat in the Kremlin from 1981--when an upwardly mobile apparatchik named Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev raided Pravda to recruit him as an assistant--through 1991, when he was imprisoned for participating in an abortive coup against his erstwhile boss. The author's insider status allows him to offer illuminating insights on those who presided over (or precipitated) the collapse of both the USSR and Communist Party. By his censorious, discontinuous account, Gorbachev was a vain, ambitious opportunist overly mindful of Western opinion, who unleashed forces he did not fully understand and could not control, much less direct. According to Boldin, moreover, Gorbachev was surprisingly indecisive and hence ineffective in crisis situations--from the Chernobyl disaster through the unanticipated consequences of glasnost and perestroika. The author's disclosures and perspectives, however, come at a price. To begin with, readers must wade through a welter of teary prose detailing how, sick or well, Boldin was forced to work like a galley slave for an unappreciative, insensitive, and autocratic master. Further, in addition to assigning Gorbachev sole responsibility for the fall of a once-united state (plus such unwelcome side effects as industrial paralysis, a crime wave, reduced birth rates, and lower standards of living), the author charges him with a host of venial shortcomings. At several points, for example, he goes out of his way to make nasty comments about Gorbachev's regional accent. Nor does Boldin shrink form reiterating the central role selfless patriotism played in his own conversion from comrade to culpable critic. Revisionist history with a vengeance--and residual values for all the bitterness. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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