Kade kneels next to a stream formed by the San Francisco Glacier, about two hours outside Santiago, Chile.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Russians

I perused this book a few years ago.  These are excerpts I flagged.
It was Dostoyevsky who had written that Russians were half-saint, half savage, an Egyptian journalist reminded me. “Russians can be very sentimental but also cold and cruel,” his plump Russian wife added. “A Russian can weep at a piece of poetry at one minute and kill an enemy on that same spot a few minutes later.” 

Ivan the terrible murdered his own son in a rage and then knelt in paroxysms of remorse, or plundered monasteries and then gave them funds.

We learned from history that to survive, we must band together as Russians.  The Tatars came and conquered us when we were living in separate princedoms, each one practically with its own borders.  We were many more people, we Russians, and the Tatars were few, and they still punched through us like a strong fist.  And so we have learned we must band together – rather like the Jews, though that sounds funny. 

Other books related to Russia and Russian history that I have read:

The Holocaust
Russia Confronts Chechnya
Seven Days that Shook the World (Coup on Gorbachev and collapse of USSR)
Stalin:  The Court of the Red Tsar (the best account of his life)
The Mind of Stalin
Stalin, authored by Trotsky (Stalin's #1 political enemy)
Khrushev Remembers
The New Russians
Breaking with Moscow (wrtitten by an ex-KGB guy)
The House of Special Purpose (where the Czar and family were held and murdered)
A Day in the Life of the USSR
Soviet Intervention in Afghanistan
My Life, Boris Yeltsin
Moscow and St. Petersburg (histories)

This was the book that got me really started.  I had already been on that first trip to Russia with my great-uncle.  Having already completed my university studies, I was in Birmingham (AL) working at AmSouth Bank while I tried to figure out what organization I was going to sign on with to go live in Uzbekistan for a year.  I checked out this book at the Jefferson County Library.  At night I would read it as I lay in bed.  I was also reading bits of The Holocaust - an 800 pager that I could only read in spurts.
And just when you think you know who the Russians are, read this.

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