Mikhail Gorbachev

By gently pushing open the gates of reform, he unleashed a democratic flood that deluged the Soviet universe and washed away the cold war

In 1985, when the first rumblings of Gorbachev's thunder disturbed the moldy Soviet silence, the holy fools on the street--the people who always gather at flea markets and around churches--predicted that the new Czar would rule seven years. They assured anyone interested in listening that Gorbachev was "foretold in the Bible," that he was an apocalyptic figure: he had a mark on his forehead. Everyone had searched for signs in previous leaders as well, but Lenin's speech defect, Stalin's mustache, Brezhnev's eyebrows and Khrushchev's vast baldness were utterly human manifestations. The unusual birthmark on the new General Secretary's forehead, combined with...

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