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Shining Stalin’s shoes

Are leftists crazy or are they charlatans? After wading through 769 pages of Mikhail Gorbachev's humourless memoirs, PJ O'Rourke thinks he has the answer

By PJ O'Rourke   January 1997

New Satan takes over in hell, wants to install air-conditioning. That is Memoirs by Mikhail Gorbachev in brief. And brevity is a thing of which you will have a high, fine appreciation after 769 densely printed, generously sized pages containing, in total, more than 350,000 words. Memoirs is an impressive work-if you drop it on your foot.

Marx spoke of the ash heap of history and here it is. The prose style is appalling: “The need for major changes was in the air, as the saying goes.” Perhaps the translator is an idiot. But “Camp David is a beautiful spot…

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