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Across the Moscow River: The World Turned Upside Down Hardcover – August 1, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Penetrating and accessible, this is an insightful analysis of one of history's conundrums-the sudden implosion of the Soviet Union." -- Choice

From the Back Cover

"A rare, valuable, and immensely readable contribution to our understanding of one of the epochal events of the twentieth century." -Strobe Talbott

"This extremely interesting, truthful, and honest book gives an objective and dramatic picture of Russia. If others in the West had understood my country as profoundly as Rodric Braithwaite does, history would have treated us all more kindly." -Mikhail Gorbachev

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1St Edition edition (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300094965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300094961
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,400,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This was a wonderful book! Fresh, fast-paced, fascinating and immensely funny. The author was Maggie Thatcher's man in Moscow, he has an intimate knowledge of the Russian people and a great deal of experience in-country. His English humor (humour?) makes this book not just a chronicle of events, but a real gem. Examples...when visiting Kiev, he is invited to visit the musuem of UFO's which includes an exhibit of foot long iron bar munching rats from outer space, Ambasador Braithwaite dryly comments that although he would love to attend, he just can't seem to fit it into his schedule. When Moscow Radio plays excerpts from Pushkin in the throes of the 1991 aborted coup, he comments--who else but the Russians would air poetry at such a time? About half the length of Jack Matlock's epic "Anatomy on an Empire", (his colleague and apparent twin in the minds of the Russian people) Braithwaite's book is more accesible, and given in a lively style. While I do not agree 100% with all of his analysis, I do find this a supberb book and a must have for anyone who wants a Westerner's guide to understanding Russia.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By advokat on August 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a charming book, engagingly written, with a lot of humour. All the more remarkable for addressing one of the crucial moments of the XX century history - the collapse of the Soviet Union. It comes from the British ambassador to Moscow at the time, and the author of another excellent book - Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-89.
There is a lot of first-hand accounts of encounters with leading actors of the Russian transition, as well as priceless glimpses into the workings of the contemporaneous UK diplomacy. However, this is not the main value of the book. Indeed, a purely historical side of the story has been repeatedly, and in more detail, covered elsewhere. What reading of this books amounts to is an after-dinner chat with a highly intelligent, knowledgeable and, I repeat, charming person. He would, just for your enjoyment, distil years of his experience, reading and reflection into a highly digestible and not at all boring conversation. This is how one should regard, for example, the brief excursion into the Russian history with which the book begins. Sometimes the talker (one port too many?) lets his guard slip, and says something titillatingly shocking, such as a gem of an admission that Ambassador Braithwaite tried to talk Gorbachev's entourage into preserving the myth of Lenin as a benign founder of the Soviet state (instead of properly describing him as a mass murderer and a criminal to match Stalin and Hitler) - for some good reason, no doubt. Generally, the book drives home the point that the understanding of Russia by this generation of the Western politicians was deficient, probably because their understanding of their own countries, based on the left-off-centre intellectual consensus, was deficient. The book demonstrates that the Western governments at the time managed to muddle through the Russian transition not because of their (modest) analytical skills, but because of their basic decency, inherited from the statesmen of earlier times.
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