Independent historian Saltoun-Ebin delivers a timely compilation of more than 30 letters between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan.
In this debut collection, the author provides explanation and background for each letter’s origins and slowly reveals the nature of Gorbachev and Reagan’s relationship. Saltoun-Ebin notes that important events leading to the end of the Cold War might not have taken place “without the trust each leader gained in the other through their private correspondence.” He begins the collection with Reagan’s incredibly hopeful first letter in March 1985, but the relationship between the two leaders would later unravel, and not all the correspondence that follows is as optimistic. Regarding the United States’ actions in Nicaragua, Gorbachev wrote in December 1985: “I will be frank: what the United States has done recently causes concern. It seems there is a tilt in the direction of further exacerbation of regional problems.” The letters show the leaders’ disagreements but also their important attempts toward diplomacy. The collection not only includes formal correspondence, but also Reagan’s handwritten notes, which give readers a deeper look at his personality and his motives. With this collection, readers get the unusual opportunity to examine two extremely different individuals: a patriotic president and a communist leader, each of whom staunchly disagreed with many of the core values advocated by their counterpart’s nation. Taken alone, the letters might be extremely difficult to decipher, but Saltoun-Ebin helps the reader along the way with detailed explanations of the context behind Reagan and Gorbachev’s interactions. His language is clear, polished and astute throughout.
An insightful collection of curated letters between two leaders that made history.