The Struggle for Russia
Belka Publications Corporation, 1994 - Presidents - 316 pages
Crowds march in the streets. Shots ring out. Some imagine a bright and glorious future, while others predict utter ruin. Politicians scream across chambers at each other. Citizens struggle under the weight of economic shock therapy. Statues of Lenin are torn down and fast-food chains rise up. People begin to taste the sweetness of democracy and freedom. The military acts in shadows, its allegiances uncertain. The mafia spreads its influence. Ethnic divisions widen and the shouts of neofascists become louder. The nation begins to confront its past and to move toward a more just society. The old dictators act feverishly to hang on to their power and privilege. Democrats - still discovering just what democracy means - feel their way forward. Everything is held together only by a hope for a better future and everything is pulled apart by the darkness of history and the stubbornness of a system that will not fade quietly. This is Russia today. In The Struggle for Russia Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first democratically elected leader and the man at the vanguard of this second Russian revolution, gives a vibrant and detailed account of Russia's turmoil as it moves toward democracy and the free market. He does so in classic Yeltsin style: honestly, candidly, and passionately. The result is a tremendously revealing and exciting account of the past five years. He describes his stormy relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev; details the fateful August coup; reveals previously classified KGB documents concerning an array of topics from Lee Harvey Oswald to the KGB's arming of the IRA; describes the painful transition to a market economy; and gives us a detailed account of the October uprising that was - asYeltsin now reveals - much more precarious than imagined. But The Struggle for Russia is much more than a history of the recent changes in what was once the Soviet Union. It is also a deeply personal account of Boris Yeltsin's life. We are with him as he sifts through KGB files, looking for evidence surrounding his father's persecution under Stalin; we are at his dinner table as he, his children, and his grandchildren laugh and live their very human lives; we are on planes and in cars, crisscrossing Russia and the globe; and we are with him alone, in a quiet office after everyone has left, in the hot steam of a Russian bathhouse, and in the silence of a sleepless night. As incisive personally as he is politically, Yeltsin reveals in his journal entries not only a nation struggling to change but a man struggling to lead the way. It is a remarkable glimpse inside the mind and heart of a leader as he guides his country forward. The Struggle for Russia is full of Yeltsin's trademark honesty, whether he is speaking about mistakes he's made or people he's encountered. He gives us a detailed and revealing view of the players in Russia's battle for democracy, and he also paints vibrant and perceptive portraits of other world leaders. We join Yeltsin for a beer with Vaclav Havel, for a walk on the beach with Bill Clinton, for a morning swim in a mountain stream with Helmut Kohl, and for tea with Margaret Thatcher. And perhaps most movingly, we join him under fire, as he risks his career and his life to fight for a better future. The Struggle for Russia is a work that manages to speak of both one man's and one nation's dreams and doubts, and in it we encounter Russia's past, its present, and astriking view of the challenges ahead. Never before has a major head of state made public his journal while he or she was still in power. This is a rare and monumental event, and the result is a book that not only is a riveting read, but is itself truly part of history.
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