Yeltsin by Timothy J. Colton
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By Timothy J. Colton


A Life

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Format: Hardback

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Yeltsin by Timothy J. Colton

Book Description

Even after his death in April 2007, Boris Yeltsin remains the most controversial figure in recent Russian history. Although Mikhail Gorbachev presided over the decline of the Communist party and the withdrawal of Soviet control over eastern Europe, it was Yeltsin-Russia's first elected president-who buried the Soviet Union itself. Upon taking office, Yeltsin quickly embarked on a sweeping makeover of newly democratic Russia, beginning with a program of excruciatingly painful market reforms that earned him wide acclaim in the West and deep recrimination from many Russian citizens. In this, the first biography of Yeltsin's entire life, Soviet scholar Timothy Colton traces Yeltsin's development from a peasant boy in the Urals to a Communist party apparatchik, and then ultimately to a nemesis of the Soviet order. Based on unprecedented interviews with Yeltsin himself as well as scores of other Soviet officials, journalists, and businessmen, Colton explains how and why Yeltsin broke with single-party rule and launched his drive to replace it with democracy. Yeltsin's colossal attempt to bring democracy to Russia remains one of the great, unfinished stories of our time. As anti-Western policies and rhetoric resurface in Putin's increasingly bellicose Russia, Yeltsin offers essential insights into the past, present, and future of this vast and troubled nation.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780465012718
ISBN-10: 046501271X
Format: Hardback
(236mm x 156mm x 48mm)
Pages: 600
Imprint: Basic Books
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 1-May-2008
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...

Books By Author Timothy J. Colton

Russia by Timothy J. Colton Russia, Paperback (November 2016)

A thorough exploration of Russia's rich history and an extensive account of the far-reaching changes surging through the country today.

Yeltsin by Timothy J. Colton Yeltsin, Paperback (May 2008)

A major reassessment of one of the most important-and complex-political figures of the modern age

Popular Choice and Managed Democracy by Timothy J. Colton Popular Choice and Managed Democracy, Paperback (October 2003)

Twice in the winter of 1999-2000, citizens of the Russian Federation flocked to their neighborhood voting stations and scratched their ballots in an atmosphere of uncertainty, rancor, and fear.

» View all books by Timothy J. Colton


US Kirkus Review » Study of the career of the bibulous Russian president, who, for all his antics, turns out to have been reasonably good at his job.So suggests Colton (Government and Russian Studies/Harvard Univ.), who considers Yeltsin's life in parallel with that of sometime ally but mostly rival Mikhail Gorbachev. Both were outsiders from the provinces, both from families that had troubles with the communist regime. In Yeltsin's case, his kulak grandparents and parents were forced from their property and sent to Siberia, where young Boris grew up as a rebel with a talent for lifting hand grenades from the local arsenal. He settled down as a teenager, notable on the Siberian frontier for not using alcohol or tobacco, gambling or swearing. Yeltsin entered the government ranks as a construction overseer and planner, known for his efficiency in building apartments for the workers (with one complex in Sverdlovsk going up in only five days and thus establishing his fame). As he rose in power, his responsibilities came to include forestry and paper milling, important sectors in the regional economy. He also emerged as a bookish sort, amassing a library of 6,000 volumes of serious literature, some of it, apparently, concerning the economics of free marketers in the West. With the perestroika and glasnost of the 1980s and '90s, Yeltsin became ever more of a champion of a sort of moderated free-enterprise system, and when he came to the presidency he put several schemes for devolution in place. Though his tenure from 1991 to 1999 was marked by plenty of controversies - and though he seems to have brokered the rise of Vladimir Putin, the current and none-too-democratic Russian president - Yeltsin earns good marks in Colton's account for his demonopolizing market reforms, political judgment that "repeatedly showed itself to be superior to that of his adversaries" and his certainty that "people power, as channeled in competitive elections, would trump administrative power and build legitimacy."A solid and sympathetic portrait of a leader misunderstood and underestimated in the West. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Timothy J. Colton

Timothy J. Colton is Morris and Anna Feldberg Professor of Government and Russian Studies and Director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. He lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

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