This is a blog for use in both of my HIS 241 and HIS 242 Russian history survey courses at Northern Virginia Community College.

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05 December 2014

Russia's Gangster Regime

There is a new book by Karen Dawisha, Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? (2015).  See the outstanding review by Anne Appelbaum, "How He and His Cronies Stole Russia," New York Review of Books (18 December 2014). If you follow Russia and Russian history, then you should read the review and the book. Interesting that when I checked on, Dawisha's book was listed number 1 best seller in the category "Organized Crime True Accounts."

02 December 2014

Gorbachev and the Wall, 25 Years later

Reasonable article recently on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany:  Fall of the Berlin Wall: The Iron Curtain fell because of Mikhail Gorbachev – yet today he is despised as a traitor by Russians

It does continue to surprise me that attitude of bother Russians and Westerners towards Gorbachev, and I could easily add Khrushchev to the equation. In some way, it reminds me of the attitude of Americans towards President Obama.  Too much of the status quo being threatened.

20 November 2014

PBS Show on Khrushchev's Visit to the United States 1959

PBS American Experience is showing, Khrushchev's American Journey, aka Cold War Roadshow aka Travels with Nikita, covering Nikita Khrushchev's ten day visit to the United States in September 1959. Commentary is by Sergei Khrushchev, the son of Khrushchev, and William Taubman, Russian historian and biographer of Khrushchev.  Great film clips.  Definitely worth watching to remember that even at the very depths of the Cold War there was a small chance that it could all be avoided. You can find reviews of the episode in the Washington Post, New York Times, etc.

13 November 2014

Ukraine and Russia November

Parliamentary elections have been held in Ukraine, with the exception of some of the eastern territories where elections were not possible, with a generally Western-oriented complexion to parliament having emerged.

It is clear that the cease-fire is a cease fire in name only. Russia's claims that it is not intervening in Ukraine with troops and equipment is just that a claim, but not a statement that has any truth to it. The photographic evidence is pretty clear that Russia is pouring heavy weaponry and troops into Ukraine. Not sure how those troops feel about embarking on war with Ukraine.

NATO, the UN, Europe and the United States seem paralyzed about how to deal with the Putin government after enacting a mixed bag of financial restrictions.

28 May 2014

Ukraine and Russia

The presidential election has taken place in Ukraine, and there is a duly-elected president now.  Civil unrest continues in the east; and no one is sure what Putin is up to, except Putin himself, and why do Russians have to call their brothers in Ukraine "fascists"?  And where to rebels in eastern Ukraine go to buy anti-aircraft batteries? It is all very confusing.

Set of Podcasts on the Jews of Russia

Shimson Ayzenberg, PhD student at Stanford, has done three podcasts so far on the history of Jews in Russia.

03 February 2014

Russian/Soviet Cooking Memoir

Just finished a memoir that intertwines a family's history, the cooking heritage of Russia and Russian historical events of the twentieth century.  That's the new volume by Anya von Bremzen, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing (2013).  Not a bad read.  Found the coverage of the short Gorbachev era very interesting, as I continue to find it amazing just how much the Russians hated him (and his anti-alcohol policies).
ps.  Four days until the Sochi winter olympic games. Read this by Kathy Lally, Olympic dream in Sochi: Internet in the hotel. Unsure how much focus the games with bring to Putin and his policies in the Caucasus, Syria, Ukraine and at home.