On My Country and the World

On My Country and the World

On My Country and the World

On My Country and the World


Here is the whole sweep of the Soviet experiment and experience as told by its last steward. Drawing on his own experience, rich archival material, and a keen sense of history and politics, Mikhail Gorbachev speaks his mind on a range of subjects concerning Russia's past, present, and future place in the world. Here is Gorbachev on the October Revolution, Gorbachev on the Cold War, and Gorbachev on key figures such as Lenin, Stalin, and Yeltsin. The book begins with a look back at 1917. While noting that tsarist Russia was not as backward as it is often portrayed, Gorbachev argues that the Bolshevik Revolution was inevitable and that it did much to modernize Russia. He strongly argues that the Soviet Union had a positive influence on social policy in the West, while maintaining that the development of socialism was cut short by Stalinist totalitarianism. In the next section, Gorbachev considers the fall of the USSR. What were the goals of perestroika? How did such a vast superpower disintegrate so quickly? From the awakening of ethnic tensions, to the inability of democrats to unite, to his own attempts to reform but preserve the union, Gorbachev retraces those fateful days and explains the origins of Russia's present crisis. But Gorbachev does not just train his critical eye on the past. He lays out a blueprint for where Russia needs to go in the next century, suggesting ways to strengthen the federation and achieve meaningful economic and political reforms. In the final section of the book, Gorbachev examines the "new thinking" in foreign policy that helped to end the Cold War and shows how such approaches could help resolve a range of current crises, including NATO expansion, the role of the UN, the fate of nuclear weapons, and environmental problems. Gorbachev: On My Country and the World reveals the unique vision of a man who was a powerful actor on the world stage and remains a keen observer of Russia's experience in the twentieth century.


This chapter's title states three of the various explanations for the October 1917 revolution and its place in history. Discussion and disagreement over these different versions continue, with virtually endless variations on these themes. Everything or anything can be found here—from the assertion that October was merely a successful putsch by a handful of revolutionaries headed by Lenin to the claim that it was the result of a secret plan by the German General Staff.

Today, after eight decades, with the enormous amount of material available to researchers, one thing may be stated absolutely and definitively: In the specific situation that arose in Russia and around it, the October revolution was historically inevitable.

Russia was pregnant with revolution from the beginning of the twentieth century. This does not mean that the revolution necessarily had to take such a destructive, and veritably apocalyptic form.

We need to go back a little at this point and ask what Russia was like before World War I. There is a commonly encountered opinion—it was virtually the official line in the Soviet era—that, back then, Russia was a slumbering, backward, savage or semisavage country, one that was vast and powerful but at the same time impoverished and miserable. That is not true—or to put it more precisely, that is not the full truth.

The phenomenal growth of Russian industry during the decade and a half before World War I, especially after 1906, would today be called an “economic miracle.” the gross national product increased by 220 percent. the most advanced types of production were introduced as industry was rapidly modernized. Russia outpaced the West in the degree of concentration found in the primary sectors of its economy. Fixed capital was expanding three times faster than the rate of such expansion in America. the . . .

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