Welcome to Russia Reviewed, formerly known as peРУСЬ (transliteration: Perus’, pronounced puh-ROOS). The shadow title of this blog comes from the union of the English word peruse (meaning ‘to read through with thoroughness or care’) and the old Russian word русь (a reference to Kievan Rus’, the loose federation of 9th – 13th century East Slavic tribes which Russia claims as its cultural ancestor). One can deduce from the above that this blog will focus on reviewing Russia-related books.
Against a backdrop of growing tensions between East and West, politicians, journalists, academics and laymen alike have renewed their interest in Russia. A plethora of books on Russia are available for inquisitive and concerned minds. Some try to analyze in depth Russia’s political system, economy, foreign policy and other areas. Others try to scare and shock the public, propagating the idea of Russia as a declining country on the verge of collapse, the greatest threat to international peace, or BOTH. Russia Reviewed‘s purpose is to provide original reviews of recent releases and relevant older books, evaluating each’s potential to inform the reader’s perspective on this fascinating country. Through this blog, I hope I will be able to connect curious readers with nuanced books that will help expand their knowledge of contemporary Russia.
I review fiction and nonfiction published from 2000-present focusing on Russia. Specifically, I enjoy reading history books, political books, travelogues, IR, HOSF, satire, translations, and historical and literary fiction. Reviews use a standard 1-5 star rating system.
Book reviews are constrained by both book availability and time. Expect at least 2 reviews per month, possibly more if I have vacations or breaks.
Biases and Limitations; Position
- I am a student of Russian affairs, working from an incomplete knowledge base.
- I am not culturally or ethnically Russian, nor have I been to Russia, grounding me firmly in the Western outsider’s perspective (albeit an unconventional one). I am open to enlightenment by native Russians. I do read Russian at a fairly high level, so direction to Russian-language material is welcomed.
- I’m not affiliated with any political party or movement.
- I’m biased for books, academic papers, and empirical research and against news articles.
- I’m biased in favor of logic-based arguments and against emotional appeals.
- I have no time for the idea that Russia somehow defies logic.
- I refer to the 73 years of the existence of the USSR not as a historical “mistake” of an oppressive tyranny but as a distinct cultural and social entity.
- I do not believe that the mass media can be counted on to provide balanced coverage of Russia. That goes for both Western and Russian mass media, but especially Western.
- While I do not hold a positive view of the Putin administration, I’m in no rush to demonize it.
- My ratings do not depend on how agreeable I find a book’s argument.
- I am of the belief that my country’s interests are not well served by confrontation with Russia, and that it is good when nation-states have stable, non-bellicose relations with one another.
Russia Reviewed is but one voice in a sea of many. Read widely, read deeply!
You may be wondering, why would this book review blog need a comments policy?
Because it’s also about Russia.
One of the main purposes of a book review is to foster constructive dialogue and discussion about the book in question with the audience, and that’s what I will try to do in mine. That being said, I’m well aware that Russia is a very polarizing subject – it was before the Ukraine crisis ignited back in 2014, and it’s even more so now. Take a look at comments on a Russia-related article or a Russia discussion on Twitter and you’ll see how quickly things can descend into a shouting match between “pro-” and “anti-” Russian sides. This comments policy should help minimize the occurrence of such arguments.
- Please stay on topic! This is primarily a book review blog, so try to stay focused on the book and its contents/argument when commenting. Questioning or arguing the contents of the book is welcomed.
- Please keep profanity to a minimum. Comments with excessive profane language, offensive concepts, or offensive images will be deleted.
- Comments deemed to be spam or questionable will be deleted. It’s okay to include a link to outside content, but comments should be relevant to the post topic.
- No ad hominem or individual attacks on the blog owner or individual commenters. It is fine if you disagree with another commenter’s argument, but be sure to support your opinion with evidence. Personal attack comments will be deleted.
- I as the blog owner reserve the right to edit or delete any comments submitted to this blog without notice. This comments policy is subject to change at any time.
- Anyone who violates the comments policy may be blocked from commenting on the blog.
Hopefully, I won’t have to enforce this comments policy very often, and there will be many fruitful book discussions. But here it is.
Side note: If you write a long comment (or one with more than three links) and it doesn’t appear with the rest, it likely got caught in the spam filter. You might have to wait a few minutes for me to approve it manually.
I’m happy to have anybody quote or repost anything anywhere at any time. Just be sure to follow the rules of common decency and behavior.
- Attribute the content to the Russia Reviewed blog or “J.T. on Russia Reviewed”.
- Use a linking hyperlink
- Do not misrepresent me or what I said in my original post.
One more thing: The only blogging/social media platforms I (J.T.) use are WordPress, Twitter (@theredshelf) and Goodreads. If you see anyone claiming to be “J.T. from Russia Reviewed” on any other site, it’s not me. If you see parts of my reviews, other writing or my What is Putin Weaponizing infographic on any other site, it wasn’t me who put it there.