History always comes down to the details. And when it comes to the fall of the Soviet Union, the details are crucial, especially when such an era-defining event hinged on the bitter personal relationship between two powerful men, Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin.
On the twentieth anniversary of the end of the Cold War, Conor O'Clery has built his compelling and brilliantly constructed narrative of the fall of the Soviet Union around one day, December 25, 1991, the date Gorbachev resigned and the USSR was effectively consigned to history. From there, O'Clery looks back over the events of the previous six years: Gorbachev's reform policies of glasnost and perestroika; Yeltsin's ignominious fall and then rise to the top; the defiance of the once docile Soviet republics; the failed August coup by the hardliners; and the events that swiftly followed until a secret meeting in a central European forest sealed the fate of the communist monolith and the clock ticked down to the last day.
The result is an intricately detailed, thoroughly researched book, based on interviews with many of the key figures in a drama of Shakespearean intensity as well as contemporary reportage, the memoirs and diaries of key political figures and official documents. The book is written at a breathtaking, dramatic pace, drawing the reader in as it focuses equally on the personal and historical stories.
Moscow, December 25, 1991 is set to become a defining book on the fall of the Soviet Union.