Thursday, January 26, 2017

Russia Revisited

Russia is in our minds a great deal these days, with Trump sidling up to Putin before the election and Putin basically endorsing Trump's presidential candidacy. This can feel both bewildering and frightening. What is it about Russia that has seemed so threatening to Americans for generations?

Russia Revisited asks that question as it delves into a bit of Russian history, spinning a travelogue of a tour to Ukraine and the fabled cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Less frequently visited towns along the northern rivers of Russia, with their Scandinavian heritage, add intrigue to the trip narrative. This is intended as the first in a series of travelogues with the general theme, "Come Take a Tour with Me." Full color illustration illuminate observations and commentary about Russia's history and culture.

The Russian Bear was depicted as a menace to America during much of the twentieth century. A moderate thaw occurred during WWII, while the Soviet Union was an ally. The fear intensified again after the war, as Russia developed nuclear weapons and created an "Iron Curtain" to separate Communist Eastern Europe from the "democratic" countries of Western Europe.

A thaw came with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the replacement of Communist apparatchiks with elected officials. Somehow, though, authoritarian rule seems to have reasserted itself. Why are Russians so susceptible to autocratic governance? How will the new Russia and the new America relate?

Find some answers and enjoy the journey!

This booklet is intended as a teaser for a more serious book on Russia and its history, in progress, hopefully to be published later in the year. In that book, I include stories from fabled Western travelers to Russia, such as the Marquis de Custine and John Steinbeck. I also include journal entries from a back-packing trip taken to the "new" Russia in 1992, along with travel commentary from my parents' two trips to the "old" Soviet Union during the 1970s.