Spring 2015

Personality and International Politics: Gorbachev, the End of the Cold War and the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-475

Formerly listed as: POSC-57  |  POSC-75


William C. Taubman (Section 01)


[G] When Mikhail Gorbachev became its leader in 1985, the Soviet Union, while plagued by internal and external troubles, was still one of the world’s two superpowers. By 1991, the cold war was over, and on the day he left the Kremlin for the last time, December 25, 1991, the USSR ceased to exist. Of course, Gorbachev was not solely responsible for this upheaval. Developments in the USSR and the world prepared the way. But he set decisive change in motion, and no one else in the Soviet leadership would have done so. This course is therefore a case study of the impact of personality on politics, but also of the limits of that impact, and of the importance of other causes (economic, political, social, ideological, international) of events that changed the world. This course fulfills the requirement for an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Not open to first year students. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Emeritus Taubman.

POSC 475 - L/D

Section 01
Tu 02:30 PM - 05:00 PM MERR 315

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
My Six Years with Gorbachev Penn State Press Anatoly Chernyaev Amherst Books TBD
The Soviet Colossus: History and Aftermath M.E. Sharpe Michael Kort Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015