Can Gorbachev succeed?

John Barber

  • Crisis in the Kremlin: Soviet Succession and the Rise of Gorbachev by Richard Owen
    Gollancz, 253 pp, £12.95, September 1986, ISBN 0 575 03635 4
  • The Waking Giant: The Soviet Union Under Gorbachev by Martin Walker
    Joseph, 282 pp, £14.95, October 1986, ISBN 0 7181 2719 6
  • The Artful Albanian: The Memoirs of Enver Hoxha edited by Jon Halliday
    Chatto, 394 pp, £5.95, May 1986, ISBN 0 7011 2970 0

Where is the Soviet Union going? Despite the many striking changes since the death of Brezhnev in November 1982 and particularly since the election of Mikhail Gorbachev as General Secretary in March 1985, it is still far from clear what their result will be. For all the turnover in the leadership, more extensive than at any time since Stalin’s purges of the late Thirties; for all the attack on corruption, with ministers, Central Committee members, regional party secretaries arrested and punished; for all the drive for discipline, with hard-hitting measures against alcoholism and a squeeze on unearned income; for all the innovations in industrial management, agriculture and foreign trade, it is too soon to tell whether the Soviet system is undergoing radical reconstruction or merely modest improvement.

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