Soviet Union -- history

Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II

By George Weigel

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"Weigel explores new information about the Pope's role in some of the recent past's most stirring events, including the fall of communism; the Vatican/Israel negotiation of 1991-92; the collapse of the Philippine, Chilean, Nicaraguan, and Paraguayan dictatorships during the 1980s; and the epic papal visit to Cuba. Weigel also includes previously unpublished papal correspondence with Leonid Brezhnev, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Deng Xiaoping, and draws on hitherto unavailable autobiographical reminiscences by the Pope."

Also available on audio (abridged).

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His Holiness: John Paul II and the Hidden History of Our Time

By Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi

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"With the same meticulous reporting skills and narrative excitement that went into All the President's Men and The Final Days, journalists Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi provide an astonishing look at Pope John Paul II--the foremost political figure of our time. In their research, Bernstein and Politi have had unprecedented access to rare sources of information in Rome, Washington, and Moscow, including formerly top-secret Soviet files. Through these fascinating documents, His Holiness allows the reader a previously impossible glimpse inside the inner workings of the Soviet hierarchy, and shows how the Soviets recognized the serious threat John Paul II posed to their survival--even a the start of his papacy. Startling Politburo minutes show Brezhnev, Andropov, and other key figures heatedly discussing at length how to handle the pope--even within days of the nearly successful assassination attempt."

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Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life

By D.M. Thomas

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"...Thomas tells not only the harrowing and sorrowful tale of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's life but also the painful story of Russia itself, a country perpetually at war with itself and its own diverse people. Beginning with the years of Revolution and Civil War, Solzhenitsyn's dramatic life embodies the cruelty, passion, and chaos that have characterized Russian history over the last century. Thomas's account covers extensively all the major periods of the Russian author's remarkable life, from childhood to his years in the Stalinist labor camps, his battle against censorship and his expulsion from the U.S.S.R. in 1974, and his Vermont period and return to a Russia that has shed its Communist cloak but not its dark interior."

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Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended

By Jack F. Matlock, Jr.

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"... gives an eyewitness account of how the Cold War ended, with humankind declared the winner. As Reagan’s principal adviser on Soviet and European affairs, and later as the U.S. ambassador to the U.S.S.R., Matlock lived history: He was the point person for Reagan’s evolving policy of conciliation toward the Soviet Union. Working from his own papers, recent interviews with major figures, and archival sources both here and abroad, Matlock offers an insider’s perspective on a diplomatic campaign far more sophisticated than previously thought, led by two men of surpassing vision.

"Matlock details how, from the start of his term, Reagan privately pursued improved U.S.—U.S.S.R. relations, while rebuilding America’s military and fighting will in order to confront the Soviet Union while providing bargaining chips. When Gorbachev assumed leadership, however, Reagan and his advisers found a potential partner in the enterprise of peace. At first the two leaders sparred, agreeing on little. Gradually a form of trust emerged, with Gorbachev taking politically risky steps that bore long-term benefits, like the agreement to abolish intermediate-range nuclear missiles and the agreement to abolish intermediate-range nuclear missiles and the U.S.S.R.’s significant unilateral troop reductions in 1988.

"Through his recollections and unparalleled access to the best and latest sources, Matlock describes Reagan’s and Gorbachev’s initial views of each other. We learn how the two prepared for their meetings; we discover that Reagan occasionally wrote to Gorbachev in his own hand, both to personalize the correspondence and to prevent nit-picking by hard-liners in his administration. We also see how the two men were pushed closer together by the unlikeliest characters (Senator Ted Kennedy and François Mitterrand among them) and by the two leaders’ remarkable foreign ministers, George Shultz and Eduard Shevardnadze."

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Reagan: The Man and His Presidency

By Deborah Hart Strober

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Interviews with more than 100 cabinet members, international leaders, and former presidents Bush and Ford clarify the circumstances of the fall of the Soviet Union, along with other highlights of the Reagan presidency.

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