A permanent home for reader questions.
Biases and Limitations; Position
- I am a student of Russian affairs, working from an incomplete knowledge base.
- I am not culturally or ethnically Russian, and have only been to Russia once (for a six-week period), 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 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/social/political 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.
I thought I saw a comments policy up at one point.
You did. It has moved here:
One of the main purposes of a book review is to foster constructive dialogue and discussion about the book in question with the audience. That being said, Russia is a very polarizing subject – it was before the Ukraine crisis ignited 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 – i.e., the book and related subjects.
- 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. Outbound links should be relevant to the post topic.
- No ad hominem or individual attacks on the blog owner or individual commenters. 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.
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’d like to share or quote your content. What should I do?
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 and Twitter (@theredshelf). If you see anyone claiming to be “J.T. from Russia Reviewed” on any other site, it’s not me. If you see snippets of writing or the What is Putin Weaponizing infographic on any other site, it wasn’t me who put it there.
Do you get paid to write this blog? Have you any sponsors or institutional partners?
Russia Reviewed is 100% independent. It’s run purely on the private initiative of a woman with books and a computer. I don’t receive money from anyone and Russia Reviewed has no formal sponsors/partners, be it in academia, think tanks, publishers, NGOs, government, business, or the media. On the one hand, this allows for complete editorial freedom. On the other hand, not having sponsors means it’s up to me to spread the word about RR. I must obtain books for reviewing via purchase or libraries. In the former’s case, it can be quite expensive (sometimes exceeding $30 for hardcovers).
Will Russia Reviewed ever partner with anyone? Perhaps – when the future is assured, when more reviews have been written, when the time is right to come in from the anonymous cold.
Interests? (aside from Russia, of course)
Insects; creative writing (especially speculative fiction); unconventional comics; translation; creative illustration; travelling; reading; DIY/crafting. Hand-work, mind-work.
Where do you get your news?
My relationship with the news is…complicated. That’s a post for another time, however. When I do read “news”, it’s usually through the myriad newsletters which appear in my inbox each morn.
I consult Kommersant, Meduza, Gazeta.ru, ACEWA, VTsIOM, BNE Intellinews (occasionally), academia, several think tanks listed on my ‘Resources’ page, and of course the blogosphere. None of these outlets is perfect. None is an indispensable source of Russia information. Everything is taken with a grain of salt, as per the J.T. norm.
In the end, though, nothing feeds the mind like a meticulously researched, well-argued book, even if publication takes longer.
I remember you saying smwh that you’ve amassed a collection of Putin bios. But what are you gonna do with them once he dies/leaves office? You wouldn’t be able to sell them for much, methinks…
What is the most controversial thing you’ve written?
Not counting some of my more out-there fiction, it would have to be either a 2-star review of American Sniper, a 3-star review of popular comic series Saga, or a 2-star review of Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections”. None of these has seen the light of day.
Do you have any other blogs?
Where do the images on your blog come from?
Stacked book graphic for Booklists is from Helper Helper. Waterlogged book photograph by Daniel Oines. Newspaper graphic from Clipartix. All other graphics are mine or taken from book covers unless otherwise stated.