Few people have shaped the contemporary world as Mikhail Gorbachev did between 1985 and 1991. Few people could lay claim to being one of the individuals who defined the twentieth century. Few people are so instantly recognizable, and yet remain so unknown. Few people have been subject to such conflicting judgments. How can we make sense of Mikhail Gorbachev? This new study draws upon a wide variety of sources--East and West, textual and visual, newspaper and memoir, academic and popular--to try and understand the reasons why Gorbachev still appears to be such an enigmatic figure. It assesses his long-term historical significance and evaluates the way in which Gorbachev's historical reputation has waxed and waned in the years since 1985. By considering his subject from a variety of angles and in a number of contexts, Mark Sandle highlights the difficulties in appraising Gorbachev, difficulties which not only stem from the complex and ambiguous character of the man himself, but also from the conflicting agendas of those who seek to evaluate him. As well as offering a series of challenging and detailed interpretations of Gorbachev in and out of power, Gorbachev: Man of the Twentieth Century? sheds light on the nature of political leadership, the problems of historical reputation, the reliability of sources and the essence and meaning of the twentieth century itself.
"A perceptive study of value not only to those interested in recent Russian history but also to those who work on historiography and historical method, because Sandle demonstrates the complexities involved in the construction of historical reputation." Jeremy Black, The Historical Association "This book is a well-organised and useful guide to understanding the conflicts and ambiguities of his era." Harold Shukman, Time Higher Education Supplement