Eternal Russia

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Overview


Here is an eyewitness account of the six years of turbulent change from the Soviet Union to Russia. Jonathan Steele's three decades as a journalist covering that eternal nation have given him a keen and deeply informed perspective on the democratic revolution and the issues still threatening the new nation. What does the future hold for Russian democracy under Yeltsin? Can market reform work? Under all the news and confusion, how much has the country really changed? Eternal Russia draws on Steele's interviews with key figures, including Gorbachev and the former Communist Party Politburo, as well as senior members of the Yeltsin inner circle.
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Editorial Reviews

International Journal of Comparative Studies

[This] book is written in a highly-engaging style, with exciting first-hand accounts of the author's adventures in covering the unravelling of the Soviet empire, including detailed descriptions of the events of August, 1991, and October, 1993...Steele's work stands as one of the best available works documenting events in Russia since the late 1980s...[It] provides a superb feel for how events unfolded and contains many sound judgments about a wide variety of aspects of life in contemporary Russia.
— Taylor E. Dark

Sunday Times [UK]

Eternal Russia has a powerful title conveying a profound truism. More important, it is an excellent book rooted in history while covering thoroughly the drama of events after 1987.
— David Owens

The Guardian

Amid the Stygian pessimism, half-baked advice, half-understood facts, and confused thinking that inform much of Western comment on 'Zhirinovsky's Russia,' Steele's book stands out. He does not treat Russia as if it were a mysterious planet inhabited by little green men. He has lived there.
— Rodric Braithwaite

Perspectives on Political Science

A provocative and well-written interpretive analysis of the collapse of Russian communism and of the prospects for democratic consolidation...A thought-provoking analysis. One of the strengths of the book is Steele's ability to weave into the analysis his own first-hand observations from his days in Moscow...It makes for compelling reading that will appeal not only to scholars of Russian reform, but also to students and general readers interested in recent Russian political developments.
— Russell Bova

Mediterranean Quarterly
The author's history is well written and lively, profiting from the fact that Steele actually found his way to the scene of crucial developments as they occurred--to Gorbachev in captivity as well as to the Baltic republics and Afghanistan. The author is a good narrator who shows great sensitivity for the human feelings involved in the various situations...Steele does not pretend to have answers to all the important questions he raises about this history still so much in progress, but he has done an excellent job of formulating those questions.
International Journal of Comparative Studies - Taylor E. Dark
[This] book is written in a highly-engaging style, with exciting first-hand accounts of the author's adventures in covering the unravelling of the Soviet empire, including detailed descriptions of the events of August, 1991, and October, 1993...Steele's work stands as one of the best available works documenting events in Russia since the late 1980s...[It] provides a superb feel for how events unfolded and contains many sound judgments about a wide variety of aspects of life in contemporary Russia.
Sunday Times [UK - David Owens
Eternal Russia has a powerful title conveying a profound truism. More important, it is an excellent book rooted in history while covering thoroughly the drama of events after 1987.
The Guardian - Rodric Braithwaite
Amid the Stygian pessimism, half-baked advice, half-understood facts, and confused thinking that inform much of Western comment on 'Zhirinovsky's Russia,' Steele's book stands out. He does not treat Russia as if it were a mysterious planet inhabited by little green men. He has lived there.
Perspectives on Political Science - Russell Bova
A provocative and well-written interpretive analysis of the collapse of Russian communism and of the prospects for democratic consolidation...A thought-provoking analysis. One of the strengths of the book is Steele's ability to weave into the analysis his own first-hand observations from his days in Moscow...It makes for compelling reading that will appeal not only to scholars of Russian reform, but also to students and general readers interested in recent Russian political developments.
International Journal of Comparative Studies
[This] book is written in a highly-engaging style, with exciting first-hand accounts of the author's adventures in covering the unravelling of the Soviet empire, including detailed descriptions of the events of August, 1991, and October, 1993...Steele's work stands as one of the best available works documenting events in Russia since the late 1980s...[It] provides a superb feel for how events unfolded and contains many sound judgments about a wide variety of aspects of life in contemporary Russia.
— Taylor E. Dark
Sunday Times [UK
Eternal Russia has a powerful title conveying a profound truism. More important, it is an excellent book rooted in history while covering thoroughly the drama of events after 1987.
— David Owens
The Guardian
Amid the Stygian pessimism, half-baked advice, half-understood facts, and confused thinking that inform much of Western comment on 'Zhirinovsky's Russia,' Steele's book stands out. He does not treat Russia as if it were a mysterious planet inhabited by little green men. He has lived there.
— Rodric Braithwaite
Perspectives on Political Science
A provocative and well-written interpretive analysis of the collapse of Russian communism and of the prospects for democratic consolidation...A thought-provoking analysis. One of the strengths of the book is Steele's ability to weave into the analysis his own first-hand observations from his days in Moscow...It makes for compelling reading that will appeal not only to scholars of Russian reform, but also to students and general readers interested in recent Russian political developments.
— Russell Bova
Library Journal
In this analysis of Russia's failure to become a Western-type democracy since the fall of communism, the Moscow bureau chief of the Guardian stresses cultural obstacles instead of the personalities of Gorbachev and Yeltsin, which have indeed been overemphasized in the recent flood of memoirs from the former USSR. While Gorbachev did miss an opportunity by not running for president in the 1990 elections, the common notion that everything depends on a single leader and the country's inexperience with rule of law are more deleterious to Russian democracy. Without further development of Russia's political system, the economic "shock therapy" favored by the West is doomed to fail. Steele effectively mixes this big-picture perspective with eyewitness accounts of turning points like the August 1991 coup. The result is readable scholarship that will help untangle Russia's fast-moving recent history for lay readers and specialists alike.-Robert Decker, Palo Alto, Cal.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674268388
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 7/21/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 789,140
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Steele was Moscow bureau chief for The Guardian [UK] until the spring of 1994. He was named International Reporter of the Year in the British Press Awards in 1981 and in 1991. He also won the London Press Club's Scoop of the Year Award for being the only British or American reporter to get to Gorbachev's prison villa in the Crimea during the 1991 coup.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Part One: A Special Society

1. First Shoots of a Civil Society

2. The Leaders' Legacy

3. The Roots of Failure

4. A Very Russian Coup

Part Two: The Fall of Communism

5. Challenge to the Party

SURRENDER AT THE POLLS

6. The Failure of Reform

THE PARTY IS OVER

Part Three: End of Empire

7. The Imperial Rings

FAREWELL, AFGHANISTAN

EASTERN EUROPE

8. The Soviet Disunion

THE BALTICS BREAK LOOSE

UKRAINE DEPARTS

9. Russia v. the USSR; Yeltsin v. Gorbachev

THE FINAL DAYS

THE RUSSIAN IDEA

Part Four: Towards New Institutions

10. Parliament, Soviet-style

11. Lure of the Strong Hand

12. Big Shock, Little Therapy

DOWN ON THE FARM

MINERS AND UNIONS

13. Nationalism at a Low Level

14. A Law-based State

15. The "New Russia"

16. October 1993

Conclusion

Notes

Select Bibliography

Index

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