VOICES OF GLASNOST: Interviews with Gorbachev's Reformers by Stephen F. & Katrina vander Heuvel Cohen

VOICES OF GLASNOST: Interviews with Gorbachev's Reformers

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Cohen (Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution; Rethinking the Soviet Experience; Sovieticus), Professor of Russian Studies at Princeton, and vander Heuvel, an editor at The Nation, held intensive conversations with 14 Soviet public officials on the policies of glasnost and perestroika The result is as intimate a portrait of Soviet politics, culture, and economics as we are likely to see. Though somewhat similar in concept to the recently published proposed yearbook, Perestroika 1989, edited by Abel Aganbegyen, the volume at hand is superior in that those interviewed are all prestigious figures in the Soviet hierarchy with strong connections to Gorbachev himself. Important figures such as Yakovlev, Smirnov, Velikhov, and Arbatov reach a consensus that, among other things, agrees that any failure of peresstroika would be the death knell of socialism (Smirnov: ""There is no alternative that could bring good results""); that righting the historical record about Stalinist terror is easier said than done (Manasyev: ""After all, a regime that murdered millions of people certainly wouldn't have hesitated to destroy pieces of paper""); and that the movement toward democratization in the Soviet Union does have its limits--it must be within a one-party framework: partiinost (Smirnov, again: ""We need one good party with a general line that is intelligent, not blockheaded""). Gorbachev, in other words, still has a long way to go in order to be secure with his position. As pictured here, two of the biggest obstacles still ahead are the entrenched bureaucratism (at the beginning of the Gorbachev era, nearly 18 million people were employed by the Soviet government) and the concomitant tendency, as described by filmmaker Klimov, for officials to ""want to ration glasnost from above."" Overall, one of the more stimulating reads in a field vastly overcrowded.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1989
Publisher: Norton