Across the Moscow River


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The World Turned Upside Down

Rodric Braithwaite

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Rodric Braithwaite was British ambassador to Moscow during the critical years of perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the failed coup of August 1991, and the rise of Boris Yeltsin. With his long experience of Russia, on good personal terms with Mikhail Gorbachev, he was in a privileged position close to the center of Russia’s changing relationship with the West.

This frank and engrossing book gives an intimate account of momentous change and the people who drove it. As the Soviet Empire fell apart a demoralized army crept home from Afghanistan, Eastern Europe, and the outlying parts of the Soviet Union itself. Against the opposition of the generals, Gorbachev and his allies struggled to modernize and democratize a system that had already reached the point of terminal decay. The apex of the drama came in August 1991 when a gang of generals, politicians, and secret policemen sought—by storming Moscow’s White House—to reverse the course of history.

Rodric Braithwaite was based in Moscow from September 1988 to May 1992. He retains business and educational interests in Russia.

“A rare, valuable, and immensely readable contribution to our understanding of one of the epochal events of the twentieth century.”—Strobe Talbott

“This extremely interesting, truthful, and honest book gives an objective and dramatic picture of Russia. If others in the West had understood my country as profoundly as Rodric Braithwaite does, history would have treated us all more kindly.”—Mikhail Gorbachev

"Braithwaite has given us a well-informed analysis of Soviet politics and Western policies towards Russia in the crucial years of his embassy. His judgments are always intelligent and well-balanced. Above all, his passion for Russia illuminates this book."—Orlando Figes, Sunday Telegraph

"Russia’s pandemonium goes on, and all who wish to understand it and help remedy it could hardly do better than start by reading Across the Moscow River."—John Ure, Times Literary Supplement

"A memoir well worth having."—Raymond Asquith, The Spectator

"Above all this book is a beautifully written, factually detailed narrative of the day to day developments throughout Sir embarrass ambassadorship, coupled with a very penetrating, though sympathetic, assessment and analysis. . . . In a vintage year for books on Russia, a year with an embarras de richesse, Across the Moscow River standsout as one of the most impressive for a well informed understanding of this major turning point in Russia’s History."—Daniel Salbstein, East-West Review

"A brilliant, colorful memoir. . . . Penetrating and accessible, this is an insightful analysis of one of history’s conundrums—the sudden implosion of the Soviet Union and its empire. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

“Spellbinding.”—Sir Roderic Lyne, Russia Weekly

Selected by Choice Magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2003
ISBN: 9780300204186
Publication Date: July 9, 2013
384 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4