- Paperback: 412 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Books; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition (Jun. 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375750231
- ISBN-13: 978-0375750236
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,433,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Resurrection: the Struggle for a New Russia Paperback – 1 Jun 1998
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From the Author
An in-depth look at current Russian socio-political life.
I have tried to write a book which explores the current crisis facing Russia and an outlook on the future. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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.
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"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
Top Customer Reviews
I think the book will find a place in history as a true representation of the reformation of a nation.
Unfortunately, as the months go by, the book will be outdated. This is a pity, after all the effort the author brought to it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
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.
Remnick lived and worked in Moscow between 1988 and 1991 as a Washington Post correspondent, witnessing and writing about the last days of the Soviet Empire. During his tenure at the Post and in more recent years, Remnick has traveled extensively throughout Russia and the former Soviet Republics, conducting countless interviews with key Russian political figures, businessmen, cultural icons, and ordinary citizens. Fluent in Russian, he possesses an impressive depth and breadth of knowledge of Russian and Soviet history, politics, and culture--tools he effectively employs to enhance the reader's understanding of events and personalities in modern-day Russia. In Resurrection, history, politics, and biography are skillfully woven together to create a beautiful, tightly knit journalistic tapestry.
Not merely content with recounting events, Remnick probes the deeper currents that underlie these events and give them their meaning. His writing is vivid and passionate, and his sharp journalistic instincts and keen understanding of human nature enable him to perceive and analyze crucial details.
Penetrating, insightful, and tragic, his account of the war in Chechnya is Remnick at his best. He traces the Chechen struggle with Russia from the nineteenth century to the present, a legacy of Czarist and Soviet brutality and domination culminating in Stalin's 1944 mass expulsion of the Chechen population to the wastelands of Kazakstan. He further describes the influence the Chechens have had on the Russian psyche, as depicted in the literature of Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, and others. "In verse and prose, the Chechen becomes more of a trope than a man; he is nature itself--untamable, wild, raw" (267). Or, as Remnick also writes, "In the Russian imagination... Chechnya is an obsession, an image of Islamic defiance, an embodiment of the primitive, the devious, the elusive" (266).
It is this defiant, mafia-ridden tiny republic that Russian President Boris Yeltsin sought to tame in November 1994, an enterprise that was to take no more than two hours, according to then Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. In the weeks before the conflict, conservatives in the Kremlin elite--including Grachev, Yeltsin's bodyguard Alexander Korzakhov, and Deputy Prime-Minister Oleg Soskovets--convinced Yeltsin to go ahead with plans to bomb the republic into submission. Yeltsin decided that he needed a short, victorious war to boost popular morale, and regain the support of a constituency that expressed disappointment with his policies at the ballot box in November 1993, when Vladimir Zhironovsky's virulently nationalistic Liberal Democratic party won more seats in the Duma than any other. But as has been the case before in Russian history, short, victorious wars are usually neither short nor victorious.
Yeltsin's complex character is explored at length in Resurrection. His drinking problem, bouts with depression, boorish behavior, and failing health are common knowledge to most Russians. On a deeper level, Remnick analyzes the dual nature of Yeltsin's personality. His authoritarian impulses--instilled in him by decades of serving the Soviet state and most evident by his actions in Chechnya--are at constant war with the more recently developed reformist, market-oriented Yeltsin who helped topple the Soviet regime in 1991.
Indeed, the book abounds with colorful, substantive portraits of many of Russia's well-known contemporary figures: the blunt but honest General Lebed, who brokered the peace in Chechnya but was fired from Yeltsin's staff for insubordination; the theater choreographer turned wealthy businessman Vladimir Gusinsky; the great Slavophile author Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who condemned the cruelty and hypocrisy of the Soviet government in his books but now is nothing more than an anachronism to most Russians; and the vociferously anti-Semitic, nationalistic buffoon Vladimir Zhironovsky.
Through brief biographies of these and other contemporary figures, Remnick paints a vivid picture of current political, social, and economic conditions in Russia.
His diagnosis of Russia's present state is understandably cynical. The transition to a parliamentary democracy with a market economy has been painfully uneven and slow. Corrupt oligarchies rule the nation's economy; social and economic inequalities abound; the rule of law--or what exists of it--is openly flouted; and the war in Chechnya has claimed 80,000 lives. Russia is in crisis, adrift in a sea of uncertainty and despair.
Can Russia change? Remnick is cautiously optimistic. He points to Russia's potential and the progress that has already been made since the deep historical rupture of 1991. The Russian population is 99% literate, and although the economy is still in shambles, inflation has steadily decreased, while privatization continues. Only a few years after the fall of Communism, political parties vie with one another for constituents, and a relatively free press is thriving.
Only time and the further suffering of the Russian people will verify Mr. Remnick's prognosis.
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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