An expert historian and former ambassador to Moscow unlocks fact from fiction to reveal what lies at the root of the Russian story.
Churchill remarked that Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. That has become an excuse for intellectual laziness. Russia is not all that different from anywhere else. But you have to disentangle the facts from the myths created both by the Russians themselves and by those who dislike them.
In this dynamic new history, Rodric Braithwaite—Russia expert and former ambassador to Moscow—does exactly that, unpicking fact from fiction to discover what lies at the root of the Russian story.
Russia is the largest country in the world, with the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons. Over a thousand years this multifaceted nation of shifting borders has been known as Rus, Muscovy, the Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union. Thirty years ago it was reinvented as the Russian Federation. Like the rest of us, the Russians constantly rewrite their history. They, too, omit episodes of national disgrace in favor of patriotic anecdotes, sometimes more rooted in myth than reality.
Russia is not an enigma, but its past is violent, tragic, sometimes glorious, and always complicated.