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The Last Superpower Summits


New book analyzes detailed transcripts of Gorbachev, Reagan and Bush meetings 1985-1991


Key documents show Thatcher’s endorsement of Gorbachev, Bush’s anxiety about Gorbachev’s popularity, and missed opportunities on arms control, regional conflicts, and European integration


Posted January 23, 2017
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 578
Edited by Tom Blanton and Svetlana Savranskaya
For more information:, 202.994.7000


Washington History Seminar, January 23, 2017, features authors Svetlana Savranskaya and Thomas Blanton, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, co-sponsored by the American Historical Association


President Gorbachev’s Last Phone Call
December 23, 2016



(click on photo for captions and to enlarge)




The End of the Soviet Union 1991
December 25, 2016

Gorbachev’s Nuclear Initiative of January 1986 and the Road to Reykjavik
October 12, 2016

Unilateral U.S. nuclear pullback in 1991 matched by rapid Soviet cuts
September 30, 2016


"Based on transcripts of the intense and often passionate dialogues and negotiations between the main initiators of the end of the Cold War, as well as their personal letters; and memoranda, notes and diaries of aides and advisors, this book offers the reader an exceptional chance to be 'a tly on the wall' at U.S.-Soviet summits ... This is exciting reading and a real textbook on the skill of statesmanship for new generations of political leaders."

Andrei Grachev, author of Gorbachev's Gamble and Final Days: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Soviet Union; former Gorbachev press secretary

"This book is a triumph of history at a turning point- the end of the Cold War. In private conversations and once-secret documents, the leaders of the United States and Soviet Union struggle to end the superpower standoff. Fascinating, authentic and invaluable, The Last Superpower Summits combines the raw material of history and polished, compelling analysis. The book transports a reader back in time."

David E. Hoffman, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy

"The formerly classified documents and the astute commentary on them in this book are absolutely indispensable for understanding how the Cold War ended. Kudos to the National Security Archive for collecting, translating and analyzing them!"

William C. Taubman, Amherst College, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of Khrushchev: The Man and His Era

Washington D.C., January 23, 2017 – The historic summit meetings between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and two U.S. presidents, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, built an intensive learning process on both sides that ended the Cold War, but missed numerous other opportunities to make the world safer, according to the new book, The Last Superpower Summits, featured today in the Washington History Seminar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The book’s authors, Svetlana Savranskaya and Thomas Blanton of the National Security Archive, argue that the summit conversations that began at Geneva in 1985 and ended in Madrid in 1991 just before the USSR dissolved, dramatically reduced both sides’ sense of threat but often struggled with Cold War preconceptions that left on the table potential arms control reductions and further solutions to Third World conflicts.  Ultimately, even though the summits achieved unprecedented levels of partnership, their unfinished business left a legacy that helped prevent the integration of the former USSR into Europe.

Today’s Web posting of declassified documents include several of the most significant that are published in the book (Central European University Press), and another dozen that provide important context for the summits.  Among the highlights:





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