Synopses & Reviews
Russia has long been a source of puzzlement— and sometimes alarm—for Western observers. Since shaking off communism two decades ago, the country has seemed wobbly at best, thoroughly corrupt and threatening at worst. But in recent years, as noted scholar Daniel Treisman shows in this compelling account, Russia has re-emerged as a pivotal nation in world affairs. In The Return,
Treisman cuts through the myths and misinformation, as well as ongoing academic and journalistic debates, to present a portrait of a strong and independent country that is returning to the international community on its own terms.
Drawing on two decades of research, interviews, and insider observation, The Return provides the first comprehensive history of post-communist Russia. From Gorbachev to Yeltsin, Putin, and Medvedev, it traces the twists and turns of the countrys evolution, uncovering the causes behind Russias plunge into depression in the 1990s and resurgence since 2000. Rather than a nation frozen in ancient authoritarian traditions, as Russia is often portrayed, Treisman shows a society modernizing rapidly, with a government that, although less than democratic, is sensitive to public opinion but which has been repeatedly buffeted by economic forces—the collapse of Soviet planning, the gyrations of oil prices—that have alternately boosted and drained the leaders popularity. Knocked off balance once again by the global financial crisis, the Kremlins current bosses must now struggle to reignite the growth on which the stability of their regime depends.
As Russia grapples with its economic difficulties, the West will have to come to terms with the new Russia. With its UN Security Council veto, thousands of atomic warheads, continental dimensions, and vast mineral resources, Moscow sits at the epicenter of the toughest challenges the world will confront in the next generation—from Islamic terrorism and nuclear proliferation to energy security and global warming. To enlist Russias cooperation in solving the problems of the twenty-first century, Western leaders will need to look beyond common misconceptions to see the country as it is rather than as it has often been imagined or depicted.
Based on extensive research by an expert with intimate knowledge of the country, the book provides insight into the prospects for democracy in Russia, the challenges and opportunities of doing business there, the wars in Chechnya, and the motives behind Moscows foreign policy. The Return is the ultimate accounting of what Russia is today, how it got there, and where its going.
UCLA professor Treisman (Without a Map) explores the path of postcommunist Russia in this engrossing study. While Gorbachev transformed his country through nuclear disarmament glasnost and perestroika and allowed the Berlin Wall to come down and Yeltsin introduced Russians to competitive elections a democratic constitution and (putative) freedom of the press it is the autocratic Putin a former KGB agent who rolled back some of his predecessors' reforms who remains popular even in his current role as prime minister to President Dmitri Medvedev. Drawing on two decades of research Treisman analyzes the paradoxes in Russian politics and society illuminating why the disintegration of the U.S.S.R. wasn't more violent the repercussions of the Chechen wars the "sacred place" vodka holds in the Russian imagination (and its pernicious effect on Russia's demographics) and how 20 years after the fall of communism relations between Russia and the U.S. remain so frosty. Yet as Treisman convincingly argues most of the world's international problems nuclear proliferation Islamic terrorism global warming will be difficult to solve without Russia's help. (Jan.) " Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
"UCLA professor Treisman (Without a Map) explores the path of postcommunist Russia in this engrossing study. While Gorbachev transformed his country through nuclear disarmament, glasnost, and perestroika and allowed the Berlin Wall to come down, and Yeltsin introduced Russians to competitive elections, a democratic constitution, and (putative) freedom of the press, it is the autocratic Putin--a former KGB agent who rolled back some of his predecessors' reforms--who remains popular even in his current role as prime minister to President Dmitri Medvedev. Drawing on two decades of research, Treisman analyzes the paradoxes in Russian politics and society, illuminating why the disintegration of the U.S.S.R. wasn't more violent, the repercussions of the Chechen wars, the 'sacred place' vodka holds in the Russian imagination (and its pernicious effect on Russia's demographics), and how, 20 years after the fall of communism, relations between Russia and the U.S. remain so frosty. Yet as Treisman convincingly argues, most of the world's international problems--nuclear proliferation, Islamic terrorism, global warming--will be difficult to solve without Russia's help. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"A crisp, unromantic overview of the rocky Russian journey to join the world markets....A tight, modern, and relevant study of the 'Russia that has returned.'"--Kirkus Reviews
“The comprehensiveness and clarity of The Return
make it a valuable resource for anyone trying to make sense of the puzzle that is Russia.”--Dallas Morning News
"Treisman explores the path of postcommunist Russia in this engrossing study."--Publishers Weekly
“This excellent book provides both an elegant and comprehensive account of Russia’s turbulent history over the last quarter century and penetrating and sometimes surprising analyses of the main political and economic issues that that history raises.”
--Michael Mandelbaum, author, The Frugal Superpower: America’s Global Leadership in a Cash-Strapped Era“Daniel Treisman treats us to an elegant and learned history that demystifies Russia’s transformation from a communist state to a normal country. This is the best and most readable account of Russia’s rebirth.”
--Anders Åslund, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics“Daniel Treisman has written a book about Russia today that is calm, sane, judicious, very well informed, and written in the kind of prose that makes you want to read on. It is a welcome and necessary antidote to much fashionable Western writing that portrays Russia as a kleptocracy ruled by a secret policeman intent on victory in a new Cold War…. Russia has certainly returned. Whether we like it or not we are likely, if we want to achieve our own objectives, to find ourselves having to treat the Russians with the respect they believe they deserve, and can increasingly command.”
--Rodric Braithwaite, former UK ambassador to the Soviet Union and Russia, author of Across the Moscow River: The World Turned Upside Down and Moscow 1941: A City and Its People at War“Possessing both deft storytelling abilities and deep scholarly knowledge, Treisman provides a truly masterful exposition of the tumultuous past two decades in Russian history, politics, and society. Anyone interested in Russia and its leaders should read this book.”
--James Goldgeier, George Washington University
Professor Daniel Treisman examines how modern Russia has delveoped into the force it is today, and speculates on what the future might hold.
About the Author
Daniel Treisman is a professor of political science at the University
, Los Angeles
and a leading specialist on the politics and economics of post-communist Russia
. He has written two books and numerous articles on the country’s development since 1991, and was a consultant to the Russian government in 1997 on tax reform. Treisman was educated at Oxford
and Harvard, where he received a Ph.D. in Government in 1995, and served as a post-doctoral fellow in 1995-6. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution (Stanford), as well as holding fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the US
and the Smith Richardson Foundation.