Books: Creatures That Slither and Froth

MEMOIRS by Andrei Gromyko; Doubleday; 414 pages; $24.95

AGAINST THE GRAIN by Boris Yeltsin; Summit; 263 pages; $19.95

Centuries from now, when anthropologists are examining the Gorbachev era, they will be astounded by the abrupt changes in the forms of political life that occurred during the punctuated evolution of the period. Mute and spineless holdovers from pre-glasnost days slithered into obscurity and were replaced by frothing creatures distinguished by wide-open mouths and fists thrust upward. Two new autobiographies, published this month in vivid counterpoint, provide a revealing glimpse of this great Soviet transition.

One of the purest specimens of the spongelike...

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