This book provides a narrative and analysis of the first four years of the Gorbachev phenomenon. All areas of great significance are covered. Special attention is paid to the economy, nationality affairs and foreign affairs. Gorbachev's standing abroad is much higher than at home. Seen by many abroad as a charismatic figure, he has still to convince the average worker and farmer that perestroika is good for them. The first four years present a fascinating tableau of Soviet change and resistance to change. This book provides the reader with the insights to understand the processes now under way in the largest country in the world. For those who wish to be informed about the Soviet Union and aim to follow events there, it will be required reading.