A Letter from the Publisher: Jan. 6, 1986

Each year since 1927, TIME has selected the person, people or thing that, for better or worse, has most significantly influenced the course of world events in the preceding twelve months. In choosing the 59th Man of the Year, the editors considered such headline makers as Mikhail Gorbachev, the vigorous new Soviet leader; Nelson Mandela, the jailed black South African who symbolizes the struggle against apartheid; Bob Geldof, musical fund raiser for African famine relief; and once again, the terrorist. The editors eventually decided to look beyond the day-to-day news and examine a phenomenon with an enormous potential impact on history:...

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