Inside Gorbachev’s Kremlin

INSIDE GORBACHEV’S KREMLIN is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the political processes that occurred during the last years of the Soviet Union. Yegor Ligachev begins the book by relating some of his personal history, back to the years when Stalin was in power, but most of the book relates to the years of perestroika and glasnost.

Ligachev’s basic thesis is that the initial idea behind perestroika, of reforming the socialist system and increasing democracy, was laudable, but that these original aims were perverted by “radicals” who wanted to move too fast, and who eventually changed reform of socialism into its destruction and replacement by a capitalist system.

Generally, INSIDE GORBACHEV’S KREMLIN is an extremely informative look at the machinations of the Soviet political machine from a point of view which has never before been seen by Western readers. However, it does suffer from several major problems.

It is impossible to verify all of the supposed facts in this book. We do not have, and probably will never have, complete access to the records of the workings inside the Kremlin. And like all political memoirs, Ligachev’s book is definitely self-serving. It is difficult to believe that he was the blameless, incorruptible character that he would have us believe, or that his political opponents were truly as black as he paints them. While Ligachev’s story is exciting and sheds real light on the events that transpired in the last days of the Soviet Union, his statements must be taken with more than a grain of salt.