Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev was born March 2, 1931, in an agricultural region. He graduated from Moscow State University in 1955 with a law degree and then launched a career within the Communist Party, rising fast.
He was heavily influenced by Nikita Khrushchev’s denunciation of Josef Stalin and his efforts to bring the party back to the early days of the revolution, under Vladimir Lenin. Nikolai Bukharin, a victim of Stalin’s purges, was another one of his heroes.
Gorbachev also looked to the outside world for ideas. According to Andrew Burstein’s book “Democracy’s Muse,” Gorbachev said during a 1993 visit to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Virginia “that he had returned often, and at critical times, to a college text he had mastered that laid out Jefferson’s political principles.”
The Soviet leadership saw promise in Gorbachev. “The party spotted his talent and clutched him in an embrace,” wrote Victor Sebestyen in “Revolution 1989.” “The party…
This article was written by By David Cohen and originally published on www.politico.com