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Resurrection: The Struggle for a New Russia Paperback – May 26, 1998
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From the Inside Flap
Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Remnick chronicles the new Russia that emerged from the ash heap of the Soviet Union. From the siege of Parliament to the farcically tilted elections of 1996, from the rubble of Grozny to the grandiose wealth and naked corruption of today's Moscow, Remnick chronicles a society so racked by change that its citizens must daily ask themselves who they are, where they belong, and what they believe in. Remnick composes this panorama out of dozens of finely realized individual portraits. Here is Mikhail Gorbachev, his head still swimming from his plunge from reverence to ridicule. Here is Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the half-Jewish anti-Semite who conducts politics as loony performance art. And here is Boris Yeltsin, the tottering populist who is not above stealing elections. In Resurrection, they become the players in a drama so vast and moving that it deserves comparison with the best reportage of George Orwell and Michael Herr.
"This is what happens when a good writer unleashes eye and ear on a story that moves with the speed of light. Resurrection has the feel of describing vast, historical change even as it is happening."--Chicago Tribune
About the Author
DAVID REMNICK is the editor of The New Yorker. He began his career as a sportswriter for The Washington Post and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for Lenin's Tomb. He is also the author of Resurrection and The Devil Problem and Other True Stories, a collection of essays. Mr. Remnick served as an Olympic Correspondent and Commentator for NBC during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.
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The book's longer chapters betray a slower pace of events. The novelty of the rising curtain was gone and everyone expected the play to begin. The action proved to be underwhelming. 1991: the country is fascinated by Yeltsin, a drinking boor; 1993: a quarter of the country votes for the dimwit Zhirinovsky; 1996: a quarter of the country votes for the dull communist Zyuganov, a xenophobe and anti-Semite who "forgot" about the millions murdered under Stalin, and saw much positive in Stalinism. Then the leader in popularity is general Lebed, an ignorant and renegade guerrilla, and also an anti-Semite. The country is corrupt and criminal beyond belief. It is waging a bloody war in Chechnya where its army is openly murdering civilians. Its leading religious figures, such as Alexander Men, are assassinated. Its renowned writers of the second half of the century, such as Gelman and Bitov, are as lost as their poor country, while the new generation is modeling itself on beacons such as Prigov, whose projects include preparing an edition of Eugene Onegin "replacing all the original adjectives with 'insane' and 'unearthly'". Considering all this, Remnick does not seem to make a case for his hope for Russia's resurrection.
Remnick's language is still as enjoyable as ever and the narrative flows. The book is very much readable and it leaves a lasting impression.
This is a well thought out and constructed book and keeps you interested. Just when you have had a good dose of heavy economic issues we go to the war in Chechnya, which keeps the pace up. He has peppered the book with interesting interviews and massive dose of good old fashion reporting. You can tell he worked very hard on this book, there is nothing left in the air. Each conclusion or statement is backed up in the writing. You also get the true love he has for the country and the people, the emotion comes through the writing and makes the book more then just a historical report. The writing is very good and challenging, this is not a book you can read and watch TV at the same time, you really need to and want to sink your teeth into it. If you are looking to learn something and enjoy it at the same time then this would be a very good buy.
In the course of the work he speaks with Russians of all walks of life and presents a picture of a society confused and lost in its own contradictions. The new freedom has exhilarated but has not led to a productive and competent economy, or a fair political system.
Remnick sees the strong absolutist and obscurantist elements in Russian society. In talking to the literary giant Solzhenitzsyn, Remnick does not meet a liberal but rather a true believer who supports an absolutist Russian Orthodox vision of the world.
My friend Moshe Fushman a former citizen of the former Soviet Union says that this is one of the best books on Russia he has read, and compares it favorably to Hedrick Smith's 'The Russians'.
I found it however to be for long stretches quite predictable and prosaic.
Remnick ends up on a positive optimistic note about Russia's democratic future. But from the evidence he presents I would not bet on it.
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