I'm almost 35, and Gorbachev was a key figure in history for the classes I took. One was the 'History of the Cold War' class, so of course I learned a lot about him there. Even without that class I knew about him from numerous discussions in highschool, college, and tv.
I even saw him and Bush Sr walking around the halls in college one day, which still seams like a surreal moment to think about.
To the guy DevilDog brought up...... Forget about knowing why he was important, I have never even heard the name Chiang Kai-Shek before.
To Alcohol !
The cause of, and solution to, all of lifes problems