By The Associated Press
The Soviet Union seemed an immovable superpower in perpetual antagonism to the United States Before Mikhail Gorbachev came along. But Gorbachev changed all that with a breathtaking series of reforms and redirected the course of the 20th century. He died Tuesday at a Moscow hospital at age 91. Gorbachev was a key protagonist in a global drama alongside Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The Berlin Wall crumbled under Gorbachev, thousands of political prisoners were released and millions of people who had known only communism got their first real taste of freedom. But Gorbachev was unable to control the forces he unleashed. He ultimately waged a losing battle to salvage a crumbling empire.