A Letter From the Publisher: Jul. 27, 1987

Most of us start our workdays with a familiar routine: sipping coffee, logging on the computer or perhaps watering a plant. TIME's Washington Bureau Chief Strobe Talbott and Nation Editor Walter Isaacson talk to each other on the telephone. One such conversation several months ago strayed beyond the standard morning fare of news topics. Discussing Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev's foreign policy initiatives, Talbott and Isaacson were suddenly struck by a tantalizing question: What effect will all this have on the cold war? Associate Editor Thomas Sancton, meanwhile, was grappling with another puzzle, this one posed by Gorbachev's dramatic domestic reforms: Was...