I remember quite vividly where I was when Boris Yeltsin became a household name in this country. It was the morning of August 19, 1991 and my wife and I were in New Hampshire at a quaint little bed & breakfast in the White Mountains where we were celebrating our first anniversary which had been on Aug. 18.
While we had been at the B&B we were essentially cut off from the world - no TVs, no radios, no newspapers - nothing to distract from the beautiful mountain scenery that was surrounding us. But on the morning of the 19th when we came down for breakfast we found the proprietor of the B&B in the kitchen intently listening to a radio. We were shocked to learn that there had been a coup in the Soviet Union and Mikhail Gorbachev was under house arrest. And as if that wasn’t frightening enough, we learned at the same time that there was a major hurricane bearing down on us just off the coast of Rhode Island. Yikes! You take a few days off from keeping up with the news and all heck breaks loose!
By the time I saw a newspaper there were pictures of Yeltsin astride the tank outside the Kremlin and it was clear that a new star had been born. The coup turned out to be the final death throes of the old Soviet system and it all turned out for the better. But for a short time there it seemed like it could have been a lot worse.