MOSCOW (AP) — Before Mikhail Gorbachev came along, the Soviet Union seemed an immovable superpower in perpetual antagonism to the United States. With a breathtaking series of reforms, Gorbachev changed all that — and re-directed the course of the 20th century.
Alongside Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Gorbachev was a key protagonist in a global drama that many thought impossible and, for those who lived through it, seemed almost surreal.
Under Gorbachev, the Berlin Wall crumbled, thousands of political prisoners were released and millions of people who had known only communism got their first real taste . . .