Moscow, December 25th, 1991 – The Last Day of the Soviet Union

An amazing book, better than I was expecting, and well worth a read.

The Soviet Union went down by decree, with the stroke of a pen, and nobody would have seen that coming, even earlier in 1991, much less any year during the Cold War.

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This book is structured from morning to mid-morning to noon to afternoon to evening of Dec. 25, 1991, with an epilogue the next day.

Woven into the book is an account of the rivalry between Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, the first (and last) president of the USSR and the minor party figure from Siberia who became president of independent Russia.

It’s really enlightening, revealing some flaws in the armor of Gorbachev, who had become admired in the West, and some good sides to Yeltsin, who was reviled.

Along the way, jealousies, pettiness, revenge and more fueled the interaction between the two and drove the political fortune of the Soviet Union – and the United States, to some extent.

The politics are hard to dig out, and the names, for a non-Russian-speaking American – forget it. But it’s worth hanging in there for a good hard look at the last day of the Cold War.

If we only knew then what we’d be up against next …

Highly recommended.

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