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.
Mikhail Gorbachev, secretary general of the Soviet Union, 1985-1991, now heads the Gorbachev Foundation in Moscow and lectures widely around the world. His most recent book is Gorbachev: On My Country and the World. The late Zdenek Mlynar (1931-1997) was a leader of the Prague Spring of 1968 and a prominent member of the Czech dissident movement. His son, Vladimir, is the current minister without portfolio of the Czech Republic.
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