The Return: Russia's Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev

Daniel Treisman, Free Press, $30 (528p) ISBN 978-1-4165-6071-5
UCLA professor Treisman (Without a Map) explores the path of postcommunist Russia in this engrossing study. While Gorbachev transformed his country through nuclear disarmament, glasnost, and perestroika and allowed the Berlin Wall to come down, and Yeltsin introduced Russians to competitive elections, a democratic constitution, and (putative) freedom of the press, it is the autocratic Putin—a former KGB agent who rolled back some of his predecessors' reforms—who remains popular even in his current role as prime minister to President Dmitri Medvedev. Drawing on two decades of research, Treisman analyzes the paradoxes in Russian politics and society, illuminating why the disintegration of the U.S.S.R. wasn't more violent, the repercussions of the Chechen wars, the "sacred place" vodka holds in the Russian imagination (and its pernicious effect on Russia's demographics), and how, 20 years after the fall of communism, relations between Russia and the U.S. remain so frosty. Yet as Treisman convincingly argues, most of the world's international problems—nuclear proliferation, Islamic terrorism, global warming—will be difficult to solve without Russia's help. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/11/2010
Release date: 01/01/2011
Open Ebook - 544 pages - 978-1-4516-0574-7
Paperback - 544 pages - 978-1-4165-6072-2
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