Russia in Search of Itself

ISBN-10: 0801879760
ISBN-13: 9780801879760
Edition: 2004
List price: $26.95 Buy it from $3.00
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Description: 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.  More...

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Book details

List price: $26.95
Copyright year: 2004
Publisher: Woodrow Wilson Center Press
Publication date: 3/19/2004
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 256
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.50" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.990
Language: English

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.

Preface
The Long Prologue
The Nineteenth-Century Discovery of Identity
The Twentieth-Century Search for Legitimacy
The Quickening Quest
A New Nation in Search of Identity
The Authoritarian Alternative: Eurasianism
The Travails of a Democratic Identity
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliographic Postscript
Index

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