The coup of August 1991 brought an end not only to Gorbachev's political career but to the entire Soviet Union: communism imploded, the Berlin Wall had been dismantled, Germany reunified, and several European states regained their independence. This extraordinary reordering of the world, unimaginable to most people in the West, occurred remarkably peacefully. David Pryce-Jones has travelled extensively throughout the former empire to ask the major political personalities for their opinions and reactions as to why this happened. He asks why Gorbachev and the leadership didn't resort to armed violence in classic Soviet style, how much was accidental, how much was planned, and how much will never be known about the workings of the impenetrable structure which held together the Soviet bloc. Party leaders, decision-makers and first secretaries of the Soviet republics and satellites each give their version of events, often speaking frankly about Gorbachev, his motivations and actions. The result is a narrative of high drama and interpretation.