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In the first comprehensive biography of Mikhail Gorbachev, William Taubman shows how a peasant boy clambered to the top of a system designed to keep people like him down, found common ground with America's arch-conservative president Ronald Reagan, and permitted the USSR and its East European empire to break apart without using force to preserve them. Drawing on interviews with Gorbachev himself, transcripts and documents from the Russian archives, and interviews with Kremlin aides and adversaries, Taubman's intensely personal portrait extends to Gorbachev's remarkable marriage to a woman he deeply loved. Nuanced and poignant, yet unsparing and honest, this sweeping account has all the amplitude of a great Russian novel.