The Community Bank of the Chesapeake Lecture
Mikhail Gorbachev was an exceptional Russian leader and global statesman. He changed his country and the world, but neither as much as he wished. Professor Taubman will talk about how Gorbachev became “Gorbachev,” that is, how a peasant boy whose high school essay in praise of Stalin won a prize turned out to the Soviet system’s gravedigger. Why on earth the Soviet regime chose him to be its leader. How he came to dream of democratizing the USSR and why his attempt to do so failed. How Gorbachev and arch-conservative American president Ronald Reagan became almost perfect partners in ending the cold war. And why Gorbachev allowed the Soviet Union’s East European empire to crumble without firing a shot to preserve it.
Speaker: William Taubman
William Taubman, the Bertrand Snell Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Amherst College, is the author of the just-published Gorbachev: His Life and Times. His biography, Khrushchev: The Man and His Era, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography. Also the author of Stalin’s American Policy: From Entente to Détente to Cold War, and co-author with his wife, retired Amherst College professor of Russian Jane Taubman, of Moscow Spring, William Taubman was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies in 2009 and chairs the Academic Advisory Committee of the Cold War International History Project at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. He has received the Karel Kramar Medal of the Czech Republic and the Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation.