Monday, July 5, 2010

The Maine Thing

Apologies for not posting more in between jobs. I haven't had much time. But be assured, dear readers--or is it reader?--I have remained loyal to Russian Studies. Even on a family trip to Colorado, I stopped in the very same bookstore where I picked up a copy of Solzhenitsyn's The Oak and the Calf a year or so before. This time, I came up with a book on 1968 to shore up the blog's limited coverage of comparative revolutions. After that, I went to Maine where I visited no fewer than seven small, used bookstores in pursuit of cheap Russian books. The suitcase bulged with finds and I was even kicked out of one gigantic used book emporium on my way to Acacia National Park. The best--and by best I mean creepiest--store was run by a widow who apparently made a living by selling off her husband's vast book collection. The store made me seriously think about throwing out all my books and succumbing to the magic of a Kindle.

I've also kept reading. For instance, I completed Philip Longworth's Russia's Empires: Their Rise and Fall, Fry from Prehistory to Putin. I mean to focus on the Revolution but survey texts can give one a little context. Longworth's book reminded me of Russia's long entanglement with Orthodox Christianity, Byzantium, and colonial expansion. I'm embarrassed to deal so briefly with this text, but honestly I intend to remain grounded in the Revolution and only use longer histories to ensure that commentary on the Revolution highlights continuity as well as rupture. At any rate, Longworth's book is a reminder that Russian power waxes and wanes, and is sure to wax again despite demographic trends and geopolitical setbacks.

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