Saturday, 24 June 2017

Books and Videos about Russia

While writing my Book Review: Romanov, Introduction to Canadian Studies, I wished that such a book existed about Russia that was as interesting and fair as Dr. Romanov had written about Canada. So we began searching for such a book. In the meantime the Oliver Stone documentary about Putin appeared.

My recommendations for books and videos about Russia

Russia: A Reading Guide', Center on Global Interests (CGI), August 30, 2016
— 12 experts share the 50 books that shaped their understanding of Russia. Only one book is mentioned by two people.

Richardson, Paul E. & Mikhail Mondasov. The Spine of Russia, July 2016, 200 pages.
— In the Fall of 2015, a Russian and American journalist travelled 6,000 kilometers from Russia’s northwestern corner in the Arctic to Sochi, in the tropical climes of the Black Sea. The group tells the stories of Russians whose life and work is taking the country forward, and what they feel patriotic about, what is important to them.

Stone, Oliver. (book) The Putin Interviews: Oliver Stone Interviews Vladimir Putin, Skyhorse Publishing Inc, June 16, 2017, 288 pages. — Transcripts of all 20 hours from video.

Stone, Oliver. (video) ‘The Putin Interviews’, (4 hours total video) Showtime cable TV, June 12-15, 2017.

More books about Russia

To be fair to my list of books above, I include lists below recommended by journalists. I feel that many (not all) of these books are biased, because they seem to be limited in scope, often stuck in a paradigm of one ‘super policeman state’ rather than respecting wider regional players.

Basulto, Dominic. 'The 7 Best Books of Summer 2016 for the Avid Russia Watcher', Medium, June 16, 2016. — Former columnist for The Washington Post’s “Innovations”

Begley, Sarah. '9 Books That Can Help You Understand Russia Right Now', Time magazine, February 15, 2017.

Elkin, Dimitri. 'Top 10 books on Russia in 2016', Russia Direct, December 30, 2016. — The best books of 2016 include those that take a closer look at U.S.-Russia relations during the Cold War and perestroika, enabling readers to better understand the current Putin era.

Honig, Michael. 'Top 10 books on Vladimir Putin's Russia', The Guardian, April 20, 2016.

Lebedev, Sergei. '10 Books That Explain Russia Today', Publishers Weekly, February 19, 2016 — Lebedev, who was born in Moscow in 1981, picks 10 books that explain Russia's complicated past and present.

Weafer, Chris. 'Six ‘must-read’ books on Russia from last 25 years', Johnson's Russia List, September 10, 2015.

'The Top 10 Summer Books for Russia Watchers', The Moscow Times, July 2, 2015.

Readers:  Enter your recommendations in Comments, below.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Russia Trip 2017 by US Citizen Group

'Grass root' Citizen Diplomacy

Since 1984, the Center for Citizen Initiatives has built 1000s of person-to-person bridges between Russia and the USA. Here's what they did this year.

In May 2017 a volunteer delegation of 30 American citizens flew to Moscow to meet Russian citizens. They divided into groups for meetings in 10 locations — Moscow, Volgograd, Kazan (Tatarstan), Krasnodar, Novosibirsk (Siberia), Yekaterinburg; the Crimean cities Simferopol, Yalta and Sevastopol; and gathered in St. Petersburg before returning home.

Link to map

Observations and Facts
  • Western sanctions have hurt sectors of Russia’s economy but encouraged agricultural production.
  • Some Russian oligarchs are making major infrastructure investments.
  • There has been a resurgence of [state] religion in Russia. 
  • Russia increasingly looks east. [to China]
  • Russia is a capitalist country with a strong state sector.
  • There is some nostalgia for the former Soviet Union with its communist ideals.
  • There is a range of media supporting both government and opposition parties.
  • Public transportation is impressive.
  • President Putin is popular.
Russians and Americans meet in Yekaterinburg, June 2015

Current Political Tension
  • [Skepticism] about Russian “meddling” in the U.S. election.
  • There is a strong desire to improve relations with the U.S.
  • Western media reports about Crimea are hugely distorted.
  • Russians know and fear war.
  • Russians see themselves being threatened.
  • Russians want to de-escalate international tensions. [Met with Gorbachev]
Original article