Chernenko was the last of the powerful old-timers. At his death the baton finally passed to a younger generation. The new gensek, Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev, almost immediately began to talk about the need for substantive reforms and soon began to carry some of them out. In just a few years they had unleashed enormous pent-up forces, which he and his supporters had seriously underestimated, that in an astonishing few years led to the end of the monopoly on power of the Communist Party and not long thereafter to the breakup of the Soviet Union. History will show that he had no idea where his efforts would lead. He certainly did not intend to destroy either communism or the Soviet Union. In any case Gorbachev’s six years in power have been so recent and the consequences of his efforts so readily apparent that readers probably do not need a refresher course in the Gorbachev era.