The Origins: Prelude to a Putsch

At first, Gorbachev tried to lick the conservatives by joining them, but that strategy led him, and the U.S.S.R., to the brink of the abyss

For years, as they watched Mikhail Gorbachev bull his way through history, remaking his country, his era and himself, Soviets and Westerners alike wondered whether there was anything he couldn't do. Wasn't there some innovation so radical, or some capitulation so abject, that he simply couldn't get away with it? Like scientists pondering the limits of an anomalous but potent force of nature, Kremlinologists speculated about the existence of a "red line" that Gorbachev could not cross without reaping the whirlwind.

Could he really introduce genuine democratic choice in Soviet elections, terrifying and infuriating apparatchiks from one end of the U.S.S.R....

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