WHO ARE THE RUSSIANS? by Wright Miller


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A survey of Russian life by an Englishman who has spent a lot of time there and served in the British Embassy during World War II. The book succeeds in conveying various textures of social and economic development: though dryer and more analytical, the book bears comparison with the arresting memoirs of 17th-through-19th-century European travelers. Miller, like most visitor-students of the place, is hypnotized by the ""Mother Russia"" notion, but he does refrain from romanticism about the past sufferings of the masses -- ""Socially, one might say, the Russians managed to make of serfdom a viable way of life on the whole, although a poor one."" And he is both temperate and graphic about the current life of the Soviet workers and the sobernost (conviviality) that has been one of their traditional characteristics (though Miller thinks a growing ""individualism and egotism"" now portends a breakdown of this trait). His stretches of straight political history are relatively undistinguished, but the book will be most read for its study of the psychology of bureaucrats, housewives, officers, upwardly mobile party members, peasants old and new. The scope is broad, from the early Rus beyond Stalin and Khrushchev, and while one might say the book is too cozy, its warmth can be appreciated.

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 1973
Publisher: Taplinger