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Grant number like: FB-53500-08

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William Taubman
Amherst College (Amherst, MA 01002-2372)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2008 – 6/30/2009

Mikhail Gorbachev, Leader of Extraordinary Contradictions: A Biography

When Gorbachev became its leader in 1985, the USSR was a superpower. By 1991 the cold war was over, and when he left office in December 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Of course, Gorbachev was not solely responsible for this remarkable upheaval. But he set decisive changes in motion, and no one else could have done so. Although several short Gorbachev biographies exist, as do studies of his reforms, there is no full, scholarly biography based on the wealth of new information that continues to become available. How did Gorbachev become the man who dismantled the Soviet system? Why did that system submit so readily to dismantling? What was the effect on Gorbachev, the man as well as the political leader, of helping to destroy the system (and the country) he set out to save? As I did with Khrushchev, I want to place Gorbachev at the intersection of history and personality, to show how his character took shape, and how it both reflected and altered his era.