Dear readers, I am finally reading Geoffrey Hosking’s Russia and the Russians. All my professors and tutors thought highly of this book and implied that any serious student of Russian history should read it. I had no time when I was in school and forgot about it during my year off.
This book is already amazing and I’ve only just finished reading the preface. Consider these paragraphs from the preface, page xi:
Today it [Russia] is one of the most formidable powers in Eurasia, and it will remain so.
It is worth insisting on these facts, since in recent years there has been a tendency among Western policymakers to assume that Russia need no longer be taken seriously, that, as threat or as potential ally, it does not merit concentrated attention any more. In this respect our views have been highly volatile even during the last decade. Ten years ago Russia—then in the form of the Soviet Union—was the toast of Western leaders, the partner who was about to adopt democracy and the market economy and join in a great alliance to build global peace and harmony. Nowadays, since these hopes have not been swiftly realized, and Russia has in the process become weaker, we assume that the country can be largely ignored in our thinking about international affairs.
Both today’s attitude and that of ten years ago are illusions, and they rest on ignorance about the nature of Russia—an ignorance which this book attempts to do something to dispel. Russia will not go away; it will continue to play a major part in shaping the twenty-first-century world, and by no means a negative part.
That was written in 2000. I’ve been insisting for about five years now that Russia is an important, rising power, so it’s so gratifying to read such words from a respected scholar.