Gorbachev's lack of detailed expertise on economic matters combined with great resistance among staunch defenders of the ancien régime made significant changes in the Soviet Union exceedingly difficult to enact. In the end, his commitment to reforming communism rather than abolishing it meant that his reforms were too limited to satisfy those individuals and groups calling for more dramatic change. Although some parts of his reform agenda were successfully implemented, continued sociopolitical problems and a failed coup attempt in August 1991 led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the simultaneous resignation of Gorbachev in December 1991. Perestroika may not have been successful domestically, but it was definitely influential on the international scene, allowing the Soviets and Americans to engage in revolutionary nuclear and conventional arms reduction agreements.
Gorbachev, Mikhail. Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World. London: HarperCollins, 1987.; MacKenzie, David, and Michael W. Curran. Russia and the USSR in the Twentieth Century. 4th ed. New York: Wadsworth, 2002.