Gorbachev: His Life and Times | Wilson Center
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Gorbachev: His Life and Times

In his Gorbachev biography, William Taubman shows how a peasant boy turned into the Soviet system’s gravedigger, why the Communist regime allowed him to destroy it, why Gorbachev’s dream of democratizing the USSR foundered, how he and President Ronald Reagan turned out to be almost perfect partners, and why Gorbachev permitted Eastern Europe to abandon Communism without firing a shot. Taubman’s talk will emphasize the impact of Gorbachev’s personality on his policies and his fate. Svetlana Savranskaya and Michael Dobbs will comment.

William Taubman, Bertrand Snell Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Amherst College, is the author of Khrushchev: The Man and His Era, which won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2004 and the National Book Critics Circle award in 2003. He chairs the Academic Advisory Committee of the Cold War International History Project at the Wilson Center, and was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies in 2009.

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.



  • Christian F. Ostermann

    Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
    Woodrow Wilson Center
  • Eric Arnesen

    Professor of History, The George Washington University


  • Svetlana Savranskaya

    Senior Analyst, National Security Archive, The George Washington University
  • Michael Dobbs

    Short-Term Scholar
    Former Washington Post reporter and author of One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War


  • William Taubman

    Bertrand Snell Professor of Political Science Emeritus, Amherst College