Russia Reviewed turns 1!

Well, we’ve made it. Today officially marks one year since I stepped into the line of fire.

When I first launched Russia Reviewed in Spring 2016, I was unsure how long I’d survive, but 200 posts, 700 comments, and 20,000 pageviews later, here I am. The blog made it out of infancy and now toddles on short little legs.

Russia Reviewed and I have grown a lot since I publicly “came out” as an amateur Russia-watcher. While review quality still varies, I’ve begun to consolidate a unique voice and style. I’ve further synthesized my views on Russia and while I’ve become more pessimistic about the prospects of cooperation between the U.S. and Russia, my attitude toward Russia itself remains non-hostile. I’ve learned a lot via the RR commentariat and reading other Russia-watching blogs. My colloquial Russian vocabulary has increased thanks to interaction with native speakers (of whom there are few at the kvu). I also discovered I have more of a sense of humor than previously thought. Which is probably the most surprising development of all – IRL I’m silent and serious 90% of the time.

However, it hasn’t been an easy year. There’s been trolling online, insults and a cornering in real life. I’ve witnessed a continuing sad decline in quality Russia research and reportage and the rise of hysteria in its place. I’ve grown more disillusioned and cynical, lost sight of my dreams for Russian Studies after college, written more Rage Pages than I would’ve preferred.

More than once I wanted to strangle this sleeping infant in its crib, but something stopped me every time.

That something was you.

It’s the readers who make the blog. And indeed I owe much of my and Russia Reviewed’s progress to you all: you’ve challenged me and given me fresh perspective, corrected my Russian, given book recs, provided feedback, made me laugh, helped with writing and translation, offered support, and made Russia Reviewed lively and interesting.

So my sincere thanks goes out to all my historians, language-lusters, resident real Russians, translators, fellow bloggers, bibliobuli, martial artists, journalists, foreign agents, writers, scholars, students, friends – and to everyone else who didn’t leave an identifying comment, but who nonetheless came and read and maybe even stayed.

Russia Reviewed’s future is – no pun intended – an open book, tied inextricably to my future with Russian Studies. I know of four directions in which Russia Reviewed could go. It might continue to exist for years in its current form. Or a couple years down the line, if I start searching for my place in the world of professional Russia-watching and translation, it could evolve into something slightly different. RR might be abandoned gradually as I go off to write for other outlets. Or it may happen much sooner if one morning I wake up to realize that the Russia Bug has departed, or that a Russia-related profession isn’t worth the stress and frequent brushes with ignorance and hysteria. Only time will tell which of these outcomes is most likely. But the fact that you’re reading this 1st birthday message right now is an encouraging sign that RR is here to stay.

Here’s to (hopefully) many more years of Russia Reviewed!


Year in Review

Most popular posts by pageview

  1. Post-Imperium review
  2. A tale of five sites
  3. 7 (+3) Deadly Sins of Russia writing
  4. Winter is Coming review
  5. The evolution of a narrative

Best original posts (according to my own standards)

  1. On constructive dialogue
  2. 7 (+3) Deadly Sins of Russia writing
  3. The problem with Putin panic
  4. The Holiday Horror; or, K.M. Strikes Back
  5. The Intensity of J.T.

Featured reviews

  1. Midnight in Siberia
  2. Red Plenty
  3. Fragile Empire
  4. The Yellow Arrow
  5. Understanding Russian Politics


  1. You can’t fight tradition. No use – it will always be stronger than mere, quick, mortal YOU. So I bow down it. Inevitably.

    According to tradition, objectively “good” Fairies Godmothers come and bless the Protagonist Child with all possible and imaginable virtues. They are followed, though, by the Evil Fairy, bringing nothing but Doom and Despair, kickstarting the conflict and a the chain of tragic events of the story.


    No way to doodad anymore [sigh] – my turn!

    In our post-post-modern time bloody Disney

    can whitewash any villain.

    Ha. Not me. Even in the “posthumous rehabilitation” variety.

    So will be brief.

    Dear J.T.! I wish you one and only one thing – t remain

    And let the Good Fairies gather from this cryptic wish anything they wan, while preparing to stop the impending DOOM!


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