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Ab Imperio, 4/2001 447 Весьма любопытны, например, описание бегства в эмпирику, имевшего место в середине 1930- х годов, или такой справедливо отмеченный Клейном парадокс: ни в одной стране нет такой об- ширной литературы по вопросам этногенеза и этничности, как в пролетарском советском госу- дарстве. Квалифицированное из- ложение концепции “стадиаль- ности” и бинарной оппозиции “автохтонность – миграция” пре- красно показывает, какое разру- шительное воздействие оказал на советскую археологию лингвист Николай Марр. В то же время, роль археологов и их борьбы за охрану памятников на переднем крае горбачевской перестройки донельзя автором преувеличена. В общем и целом монография Клейна не представляет собой вводной работы общесправочно- го характера: это скорее сборник статей, ориентированный ис- ключительно на специальную, узкоквалифицированную чита- тельскую аудиторию. А она, ве- роятно, знакома с русским ори- гиналом. Немецкое же издание книги при такой цене, наверное, могло бы порадовать читателя разве что своей пересмотренной, более удобной структурой и улучшенным справочным аппа- ратом. Irina KUDENKO Roy Medvedev, Post-Soviet Russia : A Journey Through the Yeltsin Era. Translated and Edited by George Shriver (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001). 394 p. It is never easy to write an account of historical occurrences. It is more difficult to do so when the events haven’t yet become real history : the dust of time hasn’t settled, the main participants are alive and active, the available information is incomplete and controversial. It is even more problematic when the history of the time is ‘packed’ with momentous choices and fundamental changes that unrecognizably transformed the shape of the nation and the world. Roy Medvedev, a famous Russian historian, acknowledges these difficulties but nevertheless takes on the task of providing such an account of Russian history during the so-called Yeltsin era, the last decade of the 20th century. Vivid and gripping language guides the reader through the Yeltsin decade; through the turbulence of the political and economic reforms and the upheavals of social and cultural transformations . The reader can not help but sympathize with the sorrowful fate of millions of Russians impover- Рецензии 448 ished and abandoned in the course of the transformation. In Medvedev’s own words, the goal of the book is “to outline and analyze the main events in the Russian Federation since August 1991” with a primary focus on 1991-95, but also covering some key events from the late 80s and the late 90s (p. 6). The form of idiosyncratic narration that he chooses unavoidably poses the question of authorial objectivity and value judgment. Personal interests and biases can substantially alter eyewitnesses’ testimonies . They can make accounts of the same events dissimilar to a degree where it is hard to guess that they are describing the same phenomenon . While total objectivity of narration is an unattainable mirage and any even most ‘scientifically rigorous’ analysis is never valuefree , the attempt on behalf of the scientist to step outside the narrow window of personal subjectivity helps to enhance the credibility of the storytelling. It allows one to obtain a different perspective, to anticipate and incorporate the alternative arguments and to enrich the description of the matter at hand. Medvedev acknowledges the subjectivity of his narration, but since in his opinion any account of events is unavoidably subjective, he does not try to rid the text of his value judgments. Although it is good to have a strong moral stance, it is not at all beneficial for the author to superimpose his values and views on the audience, leaving no space for the reader’s independent conclusions. The tone of the narration , derogatory with regard to Yeltsin ’s reforms and uncritical and utopian with regard to his own views and beliefs at times makes the book resemble a political pamphlet or party document rather than a serious historical analysis. The credibility of the book is damaged by the straightforward moralization and the straight-jacketing of personalities and events. In addition, the strong moral emphasis of the book should make readers skeptical and suspicious both about the accuracy of ‘facts’ and the validity of their interpretation . Those who share Medvedev’s feelings towards Yeltsin and the ‘reformers’ are probably not in need of persuasion, and those who do not agree with Medvedev’s opinion may be deterred by the unmasked prejudice of the author and made unwilling to listen even to reasonable arguments (of which Medvedev, to his credit, has plenty). The scholar feels that his subjectivity is compensated by the tendency to pose questions instead of giving the answers. He indeed raises many important questions, including the Russian traditional questions “who is to blame?” and “what is to be done?” However, most of the questions are immediately followed by rather categorical answers: sometimes lengthy, sometimes partial. Ab Imperio, 4/2001 449 Once again, the moral choice guides the narrative and dictates the interpretation of the events and the choice of the argumentation. The book consists of three parts and a postscript which are structured along the main developments in Russian history of the reforms. Part One deals with first half of Yeltsin’s reign. It is explicit in assigning the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2164-9731
Print ISSN
2166-4072
Pages
pp. 447-454
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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