Picks and Pans Review: Lenin's Tomb

updated 07/12/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/12/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by David Remnick

This most readable history chronicles the unraveling of the Soviet empire, from Gorbachev's glory in the late '80s to Yeltsin's dramatic ascension after the hard-liners' attempted coup in 1991. Remnick, during those years The Washington Post's Moscow correspondent, points out that Gorbachev intended perestroika to reform Communism, not destroy it, but once the new openness took root, the democratic movement could not be stopped. Remnick sees Gorbachev and Yeltsin as inextricably linked; if the former hadn't laid the groundwork for change, the latter could not have seized the moment.

This enthralling book offers more than a history lesson, however. It portrays a culture trying to come to terms with its blood-soaked past. The author regales readers with moving stories of innocents who fell prey to Stalin's terror, of their children who grew up to suffer in silence or bravely dissent, and, finally, of the new Pepsi generation eager for Western acquisitions.

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