Mikhail Gorbachev studied law at Moscow University. After obtaining his law degree, he returned to his hometown of Stavropol.
In 1962, he became regional Agricultural Secretary and in 1970, Stavropol's Communist leader. Eight years later, he was appointed Secretary of Agriculture of the USSR. After his mentor, Yuri Andropov, became the Party Secretary, Gorbachev was put in charge of the Soviet economy.
After the death of Cherenenko, he was appointed Party Secretary. As Soviet leader, he instituted extensive reforms. However, once those reforms began, they developed almost a life of their own, eventually tearing apart the Soviet Union.
An attempted coup against Gorbachev failed, but his position was eliminated when the Soviet Union ceased to exist.