Moscow, December 25, 1991 by Conor O'Clery
The Last Day of the Soviet Union

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 6 Critic Reviews



The implosion of the Soviet Union was the culmination of a gripping game played out between two men who intensely disliked each other and had different concepts for the future. Mikhail Gorbachev, a sophisticated and urbane reformer, sought to modernize and preserve the USSR; Boris Yeltsin, a coarse and a hard drinking “bulldozer,” wished to destroy the union and create a capitalist Russia. The defeat of the August 1991 coup attempt, carried out by hardline communists, shook Gorbachev’s authority and was a triumph for Yeltsin. But it took four months of intrigue and double-dealing before the Soviet Union collapsed and the day arrived when Yeltsin could hustle Gorbachev out of the Kremlin, and move in as ruler of Russia.

Conor O’Clery has written a unique and truly suspenseful thriller of the day the Soviet Union died. The internal power plays, the shifting alliances, the betrayals, the mysterious three colonels carrying the briefcase with the nuclear codes, and the jockeying to exploit the future are worthy of John Le Carré or Alan Furst. The Cold War’s last act was a magnificent dark drama played out in the shadows of the Kremlin.


About Conor O'Clery

See more books from this Author
Conor O'Clery is a journalist for The Irish Times who has specialized in Irish politics and Anglo-Irish relations. He is the author of Melting Snow and Daring Diplomacy.
Published August 23, 2011 by PublicAffairs. 354 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Moscow, December 25, 1991

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

O’Clery presents Gorbachev as a kind of communist’s communist to the end—a safe in his office contained Stalin’s own file about the Katyn massacre and the Hitler-Stalin pact, even though Gorbachev had insisted these documents no longer existed.

Dec 25 1991 | Read Full Review of Moscow, December 25, 1991: Th...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

He frames the story as a duel between Gorbachev, the principled but vain and haughty statesman who lost control of the reforms he initiated, and Boris Yeltsin, the president of the Russian Republic—a crude, drunken bully and something the Soviet Union had not seen before: a real politician, cap...

Jun 06 2011 | Read Full Review of Moscow, December 25, 1991: Th...

Star Tribune

See more reviews from this publication

O'Clery, the Russian correspondent for the Irish Times, recounts the end of the USSR with great drama and irony.

Aug 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Moscow, December 25, 1991: Th...

Huffington Post

Yeltsin was at first a reforming communist as well but, alive to the moment and alert to the mood of the people in a way Gorbachev forever failed to match, Yeltsin evolved into a democrat -- and pushed Gorbachev toward democracy even as, for example during the "Bloody Sunday" crackdowns in Vilniu...

Sep 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Moscow, December 25, 1991: Th...

The two adversaries, on the last occasion they would meet, hammering out Gorbachev's retirement package in the Kremlin Walnut Room, Gorbachev drinking his favourite Jubilee cognac, Yeltsin sticking to vodka.

Dec 25 1991 | Read Full Review of Moscow, December 25, 1991: Th...

Red Room

Here he's a bully, something of a narcissist, eager to be flattered, too eager to be loved, and possessing zero political touch (because he saw himself, not the people, at the center of all dramas.) In reading this book, one thinks of accounts of Nixon's last months in office and also Carter's l...

Dec 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Moscow, December 25, 1991: Th...

Reader Rating for Moscow, December 25, 1991

An aggregated and normalized score based on 28 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review