RaveNPR...[an] extraordinary new biography ... His admiration and even affection for Mikhail Gorbachev, last leader of the Soviet Union, are clear. That might call into question the impartiality of a lesser biographer. But Taubman makes a convincing case that Gorbachev's profound 'decency' — the word appears throughout the book — is fundamental to understanding him ... It's a big book and the subject is Russia, enough to intimidate many readers. Taubman understands this. One of his gifts is an 11-page 'Cast of Characters,' listing all those inscrutable Russian names with a brief explanation of who is who. And though Taubman is an accomplished scholar, his book is anything but a solemn academic tome. It's gripping.