The Soviet Mind: Russian Culture under Communism

Brookings Institution Press
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“Berlin’s great powers of observation combine with his great knowledge and literary gifts to provide us with a fascinating series of insights.”
—Geoffrey Riklin


George Kennan, the architect of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union, called Isaiah Berlin “the patron saint among the commentators of the Russian scene.” In The Soviet Mind, Berlin proves himself worthy of that accolade. Although the essays in this book were originally written to explore tensions between Soviet communism and Russian culture, the thinking about the Russian mind that emerges is as relevant today under Putin’s post-communist Russia as it was when this book first appeared more than a decade ago.

This Brookings Classic brings together Berlin's writings about the Soviet Union. Among the highlights are accounts of Berlin's meetings with Russian writers in the aftermath of the war; a celebrated memorandum written for the British Foreign Office in 1945 about the state of the arts under Stalin; Berlin's account of Stalin's manipulative "artificial dialectic"; portraits of Pasternak and poet Osip Mandel’shtam; Berlin's survey of Russian culture based on a visit in 1956; and a postscript reflecting on the fall of the Berlin Wall and other events in 1989.

Henry Hardy prepared the essays for publication; his introduction describes their history. In his revised foreword, Brookings’ Strobe Talbott, a longtime expert on Russia and the Soviet Union, relates the essays to Berlin's other work.

The essays and other pieces in The Soviet Mind—including a new essay, “Marxist versus Non-Marxist Ideas in Soviet Policy”—represent Berlin at his most brilliant and are invaluable for policymakers, students, and anyone interested in Russian politics and thought—past, present, and future.
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About the author

Isaiah Berlin (1909–97) was a Russian-born British philosopher, educator, and theorist, famed for his intellectual brilliance but also for his ability to explain complex ideas in a remarkably accessible style. He taught social and political theory for most of his life at Oxford University, where he was the founding president of Wolfson College.

Henry Hardy is a fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford University. He is one of Isaiah Berlin’s literary trustees and has edited a number of other collections of Berlin’s essays.

Strobe Talbott assumed the presidency of the Brookings Institution in July 2002 after a career in journalism, government and academe.

His immediate previous post was founding director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. Before that, he served in the State Department from 1993 to 2001, first as ambassador-at-large and special adviser to the secretary of state for the new independent states of the former Soviet Union, then as deputy secretary of state for seven years.

Mr. Talbott entered government service after 21 years with Time magazine. As a reporter, he covered Eastern Europe, the State Department and the White House, then was Washington bureau chief, editor-at-large and foreign affairs columnist. He was twice awarded the Edward Weintal Prize for distinguished diplomatic reporting.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Aug 23, 2016
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780815728887
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Russia & the Former Soviet Union
Political Science / Essays
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Communism, Post-Communism & Socialism
Political Science / World / Russian & Former Soviet Union
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