Timothy Garton Ash in the New York Review of Books:
Unsurprisingly, the twentieth anniversary of 1989 has added to an already groaning shelf of books on the year that ended the short twentieth century. If we extend “1989” to include the unification of Germany and disunification of the Soviet Union in 1990–1991, we should more accurately say the three years that ended the century. The anniversary books include retrospective journalistic chronicles, with some vivid personal glimpses and striking details (Victor Sebestyen, György Dalos, Michael Meyer, and Michel Meyer), spirited essays in historical interpretation (Stephen Kotkin and Constantine Pleshakov), and original scholarly work drawing on archival sources as well as oral history (Mary Elise Sarotte and the volume edited by Jeffrey Engel). I cannot review them individually. Most add something to our knowledge; some add quite a lot. It is no criticism of any of these authors to say that I come away dreaming of another book: the global, synthetic history of 1989 that remains to be written.
Over these twenty years, the most interesting new findings have come from Soviet, American, and German archives, and, to a lesser extent, from East European, British, and French ones. They throw light mainly on the high politics of 1989–1991. Thus, for example, we find that the Soviet Politburo did not even discuss Germany on November 9, 1989, the day the Berlin Wall would come down, but instead heard a panicky report from Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov about preparations for secession in the Baltic states and their possible effects in Ukraine and Russia. “I smell an overall collapse,” said Ryzhkov.