Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Russia’s Past, Present and Future

Russia’s Past, Present and Future

  • December 1, 2011

Russia today is haunted by deeds that have been unexamined and words that have been left unsaid. A serious attempt to understand the meaning of the communist experience has not been undertaken and millions of victims of Soviet communism are all but forgotten. In this book, David Satter, a former Moscow correspondent and long-time writer on Russia and the Soviet Union, presents a striking new interpretation of Russia’s great historical tragedy, locating its source in Russia’s failure fully to appreciate the value of the individual in comparison with the objectives of the state. Satter explores the moral and spiritual crisis of Russian society. He shows how it is possible for a government to deny the inherent value of its citizens and for the population to agree, and why so many Russians actually mourn the passing of the Soviet regime that denied them fundamental rights. Through a wide-ranging consideration of attitudes toward the living and the dead, the past and the present, the state and the individual, Satter arrives at a distinctive and important new way of understanding the Russian experience.

David Satter, an FPRI Senior Fellow, is a former Moscow correspondent and a longtime observer of Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He graduated from the University of Chicago and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar and earned a B.Litt degree in political philosophy. He worked for four years as a police reporter for the Chicago Tribune and in 1976 was named Moscow correspondent of the London Financial Times. He worked in Moscow for six years, from 1976-82, during which time he sought out Soviet citizens with the intention of preserving their accounts of the Soviet totalitarian system for posterity. After completing his term in Moscow, Satter became a special correspondent on Soviet affairs for the Wall Street Journal, contributing to the paper’s editorial page. In 1990, he was named a Thornton Hooper fellow at FPRI in Philadelphia and then a senior fellow at the Institute. From 2003-08, he was a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. In 2008, he was also a visiting professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He teaches a course on contemporary Russian history at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced Academic Programs. Satter has written two books about Russia, Age of Delirium: the Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union (Knopf, 1996) and Darkness at Dawn: the Rise of the Russian Criminal State (Yale 2003). His books have been translated into Russian, Estonian, Latvian, Czech, Portuguese and Vietnamese. Age of Delirium is also being made into a documentary film by the Russian director Andrei Nekrasov in a U.S.-German-Ukrainian joint production.

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