On Perestroika, the Prague Spring, and the Crossroads of Socialism
Mikhail Gorbachev and Zdenek Mlynar were friends for half a century, since they first crossed paths as students in 1950. Although one was a Russian and the other a Czech, they were both ardent supporters of communism and socialism. One took part in laying the groundwork for and carrying out the Prague spring; the other opened a new political era in Soviet world politics.
In 1993 they decided that their conversations might be of interest to others and so they began to tape-record them. This book is the product of that "thinking out loud" process. It is an absorbing record of two friends trying to explain to one another their views on the problems and events that determined their destinies. From reminiscences of their starry-eyed university days to reflections on the use of force to "save socialism" to contemplation of the end of the cold war, here is a far more candid picture of Gorbachev than we have ever seen before.
"An extraordinary transcription (and translation) of three blunt and probing conversations during the early 1990s between two old friends." — Booklist
"Gorbachev adds enough beyond what he has already written to offer valuable insight to his intellectual evolution, down to and including his conception of socialism." — Foreign Affairs
"This books reminds us of [Gorbachev's] accidental greatness and his greatness of character.... It reveals an argumentative, insightful and tenacious political frienship which did not end in betrayal." — John Lloyd, Times Literary Supplement
"A significant historical document..." — Journal of Democracy
"A timely and important book... An unusually candid and revealing dialogue between Gorbachev and Zdenek Mlynar." — Robert D. English, The Nation
Conversation One: The Criss-Crossing of Our Paths
1. Student Communists
2. New Hopes and New Disappointments
3. Twenty Years, Divergent Paths
Conversation Two: How We Sought to Reinvigorate Socialism
1. the Prague Spring and Its Defeat
2. More Democracy, More Socialism
3. Freedom of Choice Either Exists or It Doesn't
4. An Airplane That Took Off Without Knowing Where to Land
5. What to Do With the Party?
6. Can the Use of Force "Save Socialism"?
Conversation Three: There's Only One World
1. Breaking Out of the Dead End of the Cold War
2. Socialism Is Alive as a World Process
3. At a Crossroads of Civilization
Concluding Thoughts: The Conscience of the Reformer