Book Review — Russia’s battle for belief


A monument to Vladimir Lenin, USSR, 1991 ©James Rodgers

Last month I reviewed Jen’s Mühling’s A Journey into Russia for ‘Open Russia World’. You can read a brief extract of my review here, and there’s a link to the complete piece at the end of this post. If you are interested in Russia, as I am, and especially in its post-Soviet period, the book is well worth a read.

In his inauguration speech as Russian president in May 2008, Dmitry Medvedev made an astute observation on the nature of post-Soviet Russia.

‘We must ensure true respect for the law and overcome the legal nihilism that is such a serious hindrance to modern development,’ Mr Medvedev told his audience. Church, crown, and communism all having been cast aside at various stages in the preceding century, Russia had been left with little to believe in – especially as, in the eyes of many Russians, the first experience of capitalism in the 1990s served only to confirm communist warnings about its nature. No wonder nihilism had thrived.

Jens Mühling does not mention Mr Medvedev’s concerns, although his characters occasionally echo or confirm them. For in his engaging A Journey into Russia, Mühling is looking not for nihilists, but for believers. It is a rewarding approach.

Read more here

More details on the book here, on the publisher’s website.

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Restoration work on a chuch in Rostov Veliky, nothern Russia, June 2008. Photo: James Rodgers