A gripping narrative of the revolutions that swept Central and Eastern Europe following the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the extraordinary events in China and South Africa in 1989-90. BBC reporter Simpson (Inside Iran, 1988, etc.) seamlessly joins telling detail and lucid analysis to capture the pathos and politics of modern revolution. Before 1989, he writes, going behind the Iron Curtain was like stepping through the looking glass. Governments supposedly erected in the name of the people controlled, repressed, and abused the people and were always backed by the threat of Soviet force. Enter Mikhail Gorbachev talking perestroika and glasnost, and ``the Communist leadership of each of these countries was effectively left on its own. And since none of them was there by popular will, it was only a matter of time and chance how they collapsed....'' By comparing previous visits to these repressive states, Simpson vividly describes how conditions became ripe for change in the Eastern bloc countries and elsewhere. When the Soviets cut back aid to the African National Congress in 1988, the US could no longer claim to be supporting the government against Communist insurgents. When Gorbachev visited Beijing after Hu Yaobang's death, the rebellious students were spurred on to a showdown in Tiananmen Square. Ninety b&w photographs and twelve maps help illustrate what Simpson saw. Coupled with the text, the result is first-rate journalism, with the reporter as reflection of, and eyewitness to, history.