Russia in Search of Itselfby James H. Billington
In the turbulent decade since the collapse of the Soviet Union, conditions have worsened considerably for many Russians, and a wide-ranging debate has raged over the nature and destiny of their country. In Russia in Search of Itself, James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress and a noted expert on Russia, examines the efforts of a proud but troubled/i>
In the turbulent decade since the collapse of the Soviet Union, conditions have worsened considerably for many Russians, and a wide-ranging debate has raged over the nature and destiny of their country. In Russia in Search of Itself, James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress and a noted expert on Russia, examines the efforts of a proud but troubled nation to find a post-Soviet identity. The agenda has not been controlled from the top-down and center-out as in Russia's past. Nor has it been set by any intellectual giant such as Sakharov or Solzhenitsyn.
Billington describes the contentious discussion occurring all over Russia and across the political spectrum. He finds conflicts raging among individuals as much as between organized groups and finds a deep underlying tension between the Russians' attempts to legitimize their new, nominally democratic identity, and their efforts to craft a new version of their old authoritarian tradition. After showing how the problem of Russian identity was framed in the past, Billington asks whether Russians will now look more to the West for a place in the common European home, or to the East for a new, Eurasian identity. Billington sees three elements shaping Russian culture: Orthodox Christianity; a special feeling for nature; and an intermittent, sometimes excessive passion for imported innovation. Out of this mix, he suggests, Russia must find its own moral anchor for its venture into democracy if it is to avoid falling back on a negative and authoritarian nationalism in order to recreate some sense of common purpose in society.
The prospects for world peace in the twenty-first century depend in large measure on the way Russians decide to define themselves in the next few years. Drawing on his vast knowledge of Russian history, his frequent visits to Russia in the past decade, and his longstanding relationships with Russians from many different regions and segments of society, Billington provides an authoritative exploration of one of the world's most pressing issues.
Takes a close-up look at one of the world's most pressing issues, the turbulent conditions of Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the efforts of Russia to find a post-Soviet identity.
This book is valuable primarily for its thorough survey of various contemporary Russian opinions about the country's past and present identity and what it should be in the future.
The Claremont Review of Books
The Washington Post
- Woodrow Wilson Center Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.92(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Meet the Author
James H. Billington has been the Librarian of Congress since 1987. The originator and guiding force of two major Russian-American bipartisan initiatives in Congress in the 1990sMeeting of the Frontiers, a bilingual, online educational library; and the Open World Program, which has brought more than 7,500 emerging young Russian leaders to Americahe also founded the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies in 1974 as director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. A foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, he is the author of five books on Russia, including, most recently, Russia Transformed and The Face of Russia.
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RUSSIA IN SEARCH OF ITSELF is great intellectual work that should be taken seriously. This is a book to read with a serious mindset. It is not easy to understand the trauma and humiliation that the people of the former Soviet Union felt after the collapse of the union, when the majority suddenly found themselves living miserably than before. In fact, except for the Baltic States, none of the former Soviet Republics¿ average citizen lives better than before the demise of the Soviet Union. Even though Russia has almost recovered and fares better than the rest of the ex-Soviet Republics, it is still haunted by the loss of its pride as the heart of a major superpower.