The Riddle of Russia

Russians: The People Behind the Power,” a new book by GlobalPost Europe Editor Gregory Feifer, explores the seeming paradoxes of life in Russia by unraveling the nature of its people.

Feifer, who spent close to a decade reporting from Russia, examines the forces that have shaped Russian character for centuries — and continue to do so today. He corrects pervasive misconceptions among outsiders by showing that much of what appears inexplicable about the country is logical when seen from the inside.

“Understanding Russia — from diplomacy to economics, culture and beyond — is one of the biggest challenges facing any news organization today,” GlobalPost Editor Thomas Mucha said. “We’re thrilled to have Greg’s expertise and unique reporting experiences informing GlobalPost’s coverage of this critically important and highly complex place.”

russians1In “Russians,” which is being released today by Twelve, Feifer gets to the heart of why the world’s leading energy producer continues to exasperate many in the international community. And he makes clear why President Vladimir Putin remains popular even as the gap widens between the super-rich and the great majority of poor.

International relations academic and Russia expert Stephen Sestanovich called Feifer’s work “one of the best-ever books written by an American journalist trying to make sense of Russia. Full of wonderfully poignant family reminiscences, acute cultural insight, and off-color Russian jokes.”

Woven throughout the book is Feifer’s intimate account of his own family history, from his Russian mother’s coming of age among Moscow’s bohemian artistic elite to his American father’s harrowing vodka-fueled run-ins with the KGB.

What emerges is a rare portrait of a unique land of extremes whose forbidding geography, merciless climate, and crushing corruption has nevertheless produced some of the world’s greatest art and some of its most remarkable scientific advances. “Russians” is an expertly observed, gripping profile of a people who will continue challenging the West for the foreseeable future.

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