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Russia and the Idea of the West 0th Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231110594
ISBN-10: 0231110596
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Editorial Reviews


A treasure trove of Russian sources... English does not just read, he listens.... As a work of history, this volume represents a thoughtful and highly readable reconstruction of the domestic ideational sources behind one of the most momentous transformations of the late twentieth century.

(Slavic Review)

[An] impressively researched new book.

(The Nation)

English takes a complex issue and makes it accessible to nonspecialists without sacrificing theoretical and empirical rigor. His rich and detailed account of Soviet intellectual development is fascinating and enjoyable to read, while his analysis makes a valuable contribution to debates over the origins of the Gorbachev Revolution.

(Elaine McClarnand MacKinnon America)

Robert English's path-breaking work... Ranks among the classics in both International Relations and Russian area studies. It thus behooves students of contemporary international relations to read or reread English's book, given its insightful exploration of the causes of the Cold War's burial - not to mention its important implications for the Post-post-Cold War era upon us now.

(Julie Newton The Russian Review)


English has written a book of major importance. It traces more fully than any other the origins of the new thinking of the Gorbachev Era and demonstrates how over many years radically new ideas were being developed by a minority of intellectuals within the Communist Party. English shows the limitations of an interest-based analysis of the transformation of the Soviet Union and of the international system and demonstrates how crucially important were ideas―in particular, the combination of fresh thinking and the emergence of a leader, Gorbachev, ready and willing to ensure that conceptual change was translated into political breakthrough.

(Archie Brown, Oxford University)

Russia and the Idea of the West is a masterful account of the roots of the 'new thinking'and the influence of men of ideas on the Gorbachev transformation of Soviet policy, a crucial and underappreciated aspect of the end of the Cold War.

(Raymond L. Garthoff, Brookings Institution (retired))

Well researched, carefully reasoned, and highly persuasive.

(John Mueller, Ohio State University)

For both the general public and the specialist, Robert English tells how Soviet intellectuals turned the 'old thinking'of the Stalin era into the 'new thinking'that led to Gorbachev's glasnost, perestroika, and the end of the Cold War. Based on interviews with Russia's famous and not so famous, as well as thorough archival research during many years of residence in Moscow, it is a pleasure to read.

(Yale Richmond, author of From Nyet to Da: Understanding the Russians)

This is a highly significant book, both empirically and theoretically. It provides an excellent in-depth analysis of the intellectual origins of the 'new thinking'―how it came to power and changed the world.... It is a must read for everybody interested in exploring fundamental changes in international affairs.

(Thomas Risse, European University Institute, Florence, Italy)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (July 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231110596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231110594
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,359,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Hollis Robbins on October 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Robert English makes a compelling case for the utility of ideas in changing national policy, which one hopes might have relevence to the current international crisis. National identity, English maintains, is not immutable. He argues that intellectuals play a key role in creating new identities -- they are "storytellers" who can be agents of belief change even in countries "where the state controls discourse over history and politics, imposing an identity from above through its monopoly over education, the media, and scholarship." Taking on those on the right who embrace the idea that Reagan and SDI won the war as well as those on the left who don't believe containment had an effect, English offers a narrative that seems far more convincing. Ideas and intellectuals, he argues, matter.
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Book contains good insight and analysis of material. Demonstrates extensive research and presentation of historical analysis. A very good book especially for those desiring understanding the Russian mindset behind their politics. The only negative is the book is written in a academic style that can on occasion be a little dry reading.
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