Psychobiography with Dr. Gail Saltz: On Gorbachev with William Taubman

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Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Taubman talks with Dr. Gail Saltz about the life and times of Mikhail Gorbachev — how the peasant boy became the Soviet system’s gravedigger; how he clambered to the top of a system designed to keep people like him down; how he found common ground with America’s arch-conservative president Ronald Reagan, and how he permitted the USSR and its East European empire to break apart without using force to preserve them.

Taubman and Saltz discuss the many sides of Gorbachev’s unique character that, by Gorbachev’s own admission, made him “difficult to understand.” Was he in fact a truly great leader, or was he brought low in the end by his own shortcomings, as well as by the unyielding forces he faced?