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Nikolai Bolkhovitinov and American Studies in the USSR
People's Diplomacy in the Cold War
This study is an intellectual biography of Nikolai N. Bolkhovitinov (1930-2008), the prominent Soviet historian who was a pioneering scholar of US history and US-Russian relations. Alongside the personal history of Bolkhovitinov, this study also examines the broader social, cultural, and intellectual developments within the Americanist scholarly community in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. Using archival documents, numerous studies by Russian and Ukrainian Americanists, various periodicals, personal correspondence, diaries, and more than one hundred interviews, it demonstrates how concepts, genealogies, and images of modernity shaped a national self-perception of the intellectual elites in both nations during the Cold War.
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Sergei I. Zhuk tells the compelling and largely unknown story of how Soviet Americanists both provided a solid foundation for relations between the Soviet Union and the United States throughout much of the Cold War and drew on their knowledge of the United States to erode the ideological blinders inhibiting reform within the Soviet Union. By focusing on Nikolai Bolkhovitinov-a modest, hard-working scholar who was well-regarded for his integrity by Soviet and American colleagues alike-Zhuk amplifies the ways in which large-scale political and social transformations can begin with the most quiet among us. Anyone wanting to understand why the Soviet Union collapsed would do well by reading this study. -- Blair Ruble, Woodrow Wilson Center This superbly researched book, which mines Soviet and American archives, the Soviet press, and includes a rich trove of personal interviews, makes a significant and original contribution to the cultural history of the Cold War. As a former Soviet Americanist who is presently a leading specialist in late Soviet cultural history, Sergei I. Zhuk is uniquely placed to write this fascinating study. -- Denise J. Youngblood, University of Vermont This study is an unvarnished account of how `an idea of America' shaped Soviet intellectuals, both in their idealism and national ressentiment. Sergei I. Zhuk's history of the rise and fall of American studies in the Soviet Union-highly personal, yet rigorously academic-contains valuable lessons for today's observers of Russian-American relations. -- Vladislav Zubok, London School of Economics and Political Science Trained as an American studies expert in the former Soviet Union, Sergei I. Zhuk has written an engaging and informative account of the shaping of generations of Soviet American specialists, drawing on archives, interviews, and his own experience under the guidance of his teacher, Professor Nikolai Bolkhovitinov. -- Hiroaki Kuromiya, Indiana University Bloomington