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  • The Russia Anxiety

  • And How History Can Resolve It
  • By: Mark B. Smith
  • Narrated by: Sam Woolf
  • Length: 17 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Military
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (18 ratings)

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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

Russia is an exceptional country, the biggest in the world. It is both European and exotic, powerful and weak, brilliant and flawed. Why are we so afraid of it? Time and again, we judge Russia by unique standards. 

We have usually assumed that it possesses higher levels of cunning, malevolence and brutality. Yet the country has more often than not been a crucial ally, not least against Napoleon and in the two world wars. 

We admire its music and its writers. We lavish praise on the Russian soul. And still we think of Russia as a unique menace. What is it about this extraordinary country that consistently provokes such excessive responses? And why is this so dangerous?

Ranging from the earliest times to the present, Mark B. Smith's remarkable new book is a history of this 'Russia Anxiety'. 

Whether ally or enemy, superpower or failing state, Russia grips our imagination and fuels our fears unlike any other country. This book shows how history itself offers a clearer view and a better future.     

©2019 Mark B. Smith (P)2019 Penguin Random House UK

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  • Overall
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The Russians are coming!

A insightful listen. As a person who thinks that since the fall of the USSR, the west has missed a trick & should have helped Russian enter into the fold of the European family instead of actively make a enemy out of her, I agreed with a lot of the author’s points.
It would be interesting to hear the author’s views post February 2022. I hope we get a follow up title to see she he re-evaluates things.

2 people found this helpful

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Thought-provoking

This is a thoughtful-provoking book that encourages western readers to reflect on how they think about Russia, and the tendency the author identifies of thinking of Russia as a uniquely expansionist and violent country. It is a very different account of Russia than you'll find in the journalistic works exposing the links between the KGB, organised crime, Russian oligarchs, nuclear assassinations on non-Russian soil etc (Catherine Belton, David Hoffman etc). The author does not do a huge amount to demonstrate who is exhibiting the 'Russia anxiety'--Richard Pipes aside--and it is a somewhat loose category, so he ends up often exhibiting the analytical failings he is accusing many western commentators of exhibiting. Moreover, a Hungarian, Polish or Finnish etc reader might find the arguments about misunderstood Russian power a little less persuasive than someone based in the UK, to put it mildly. The author is aware that the book could be categorised as 400 pages of 'what about-ism,' but still frequently slips into snide comments that undermine his case. But overall it should definitely be listened/read to closely and carefully, especially by anyone who wants to think about how we get out of the mess we're currently in and who wants to be challenged to look with fresh eyes on Russia's relationship with the west.

1 person found this helpful

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Important points but could be much more concise

Arguments were not bad, but large sections felt tangential and disjointed. Reader was consistently good.

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Strongly reccomend to all interested in Russia

Loved this, was a real gem, and refreshingly different from other books about Russia. The author has a vast knowledge of Russian history which he actively applies to his theory of the Russian Anxiety. Surely a necessary and important read for all who Russia intrigues, provokes and fascinates - often our anxieties say as much about us as they do about the other!

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A great book analysing Russian anxiety

Loved the book, as a Russian still found some new things in it that they don't teach in class. Smart and analytical, not taking sides. Even bought a hard copy of it to have. The only negative thing is that the narrator had a really hard time with Russian names and places, it was difficult to recognize even familiar concepts. I suggest consulting a native before recording.

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Pronunciation

The reader has a nice engaging voice and intonation. I wish he had learnt to properly pronounce the Russian and French terms though.

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Awesome book

Very good explanation on why Russia is what it is. An eye opener for Russia haters.