Lucid--and, as recent events attest, prescient--examination of Gorbachev's domestic performance, which Goldman (Gorbachev's Challenge, 1987, etc.) argues has led to the economic collapse and political disintegration of the USSR. Goldman performs what he terms an ``autopsy'' on Gorbachev's failure to reform his nation. While praising the Soviet leader's stalwart efforts, the author contends that Gorbachev made several serious mistakes in repeatedly reversing his policy course. Starting out with a traditional emphasis on the machine-tool industry and on the creation of superministries as the basis of wide-scale reform, Gorbachev learned in less than two years that such means would yield only minor adjustments. According to Goldman, Gorbachev then (at the same time he was promoting human- rights reforms and glasnost) tried out an inconsistent series of new approaches, swinging toward a market economy, then away. Economic advisors came and went; comprehensive plans were proposed, modified, shelved; central planning weakened, and factory managers first bartered with each other for supplies, then closed down plants or reduced production. Goldman points out that, unlike in the West, where economic depression is generally caused by lack of demand, in the USSR a depression has arisen from a collapse in supply. The author also explores the political and economic landscape Gorbachev inherited, his rise from an obscure farm town to international fame, the resistance of hard-liners, and the possible future of reform. Incisive and expert road map to the intricacies of recent Soviet history.