We have a vibrant book here that makes current history come alive in the eyes of those that study it in depth, as well as the eyes of those that simply want to experience a different way of life. The descriptions of expats in Russia, and Russians give a nuanced view of what it is to live in Russia, with a thorough backdrop of ‘to the moment’ accurate historical happenings in Europe, Russia and the US alike.
Deena says: “America’s decades-long descent from ‘greatness’ having culminated in a president who replaces traditional diplomacy and war-room decisions with tweets and deals, the ether vibrates with the anguished cries of observers who wonder where he will take us. Meanwhile, the MSM claims that Russia is our enemy.”
The book became a reality “when I learned that The Moscow Times English language daily estimated that there were upwards of ten thousand Americans living in Russia, in seeming contradiction to the official US attitude toward that country, I decided to find out what had motivated them and whether the experience of living in Russia had changed their perceptions of the world. I travelled to Russia just in time for the May 9th military parade that commemorates the end of World War II. The image I captured projected onto a facade near Red Square, was of a flaming tank, a reminder to those who throughout history have fallen victim to delusions of Russian conquest.”
The first 5 Chapters of Russia’s Americans provide a condensed history through the cold war, to current. From Chapter 6, we are entertained and educated with seeing Russia through the eyes of expats. What struck me, is the accommodations that the War on Russia requires from peaceful people. The vignettes are richly supported by the political issues of the day in the West, as well as Europe. Deena’s words build the pictures that one wants to see in your mind.
Consider: “If you believe Sochi is a mini-version of the Mediterranean, it’s not: the Black Sea, for all its vaunted charms, doesn’t move. Seeing it for the first time from the highway from the airport, its immobility struck me: the Mediterranean can appear immobile at certain times of the day, mainly in early morning and late afternoon, but one senses that it is alive beneath the calm surface. I was so intrigued by what I saw, that I went to Wikipedia, where, sure enough, my observation was confirmed.
The Black sea is the largest body of water with a meromictic basin, which makes the movement of water between the lower and upper layers the least in the world. due to a considerable temperature difference between them that drains oxygen from the latter, explaining its immobility.”
For those of us that have not managed to travel to Russia, the scenes come alive in the mind’s eye with the help of Deena’s sharp descriptions.
The Russians that Deena interviewed provides a nuanced but fascinating ‘Inside Story’ of how the Russian man and woman on the street think. “Thus, the big difference between Putin’s groupies and Stalin’s is that the former have the wherewithal to think for themselves, while the latter did not, and hence could only rely on the Party line. Those who support Putin’s approach to international affairs do so because they can see that it makes sense. Seventy years after the founding of the UN, the Russian president wants the world to abide by its charter, in letter and in spirit, while Washington has for decades disparaged both.”
The best recommendation that I have of Deena Stryker’s “Russias Americans”, is to get yourself a copy, a cup of java or tea, sit back, read and enjoy.
“And what should be done by those in Russia who love the US, and those in the US who love Russia? Thankfully, people like this exist. They must prompt society as a whole, the people who make decisions, to see that in spite of the differences between our nations, our approaches to development, or resolving global problems – there are nevertheless people in Russia who love the United States, which means that something about it deserves respect.
“And the reverse is also true; if some in American society, some American people, love and care about Russia, then they should explain to their people, to American society and to those who make political decisions, that Russia should be treated with respect.
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