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Home > Catalog > The American Mission and the 'Evil Empire'
The American Mission and the 'Evil Empire'


  • 17 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 364 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.54 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521671835)

  • Also available in Hardback
  • Published October 2007

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$34.99 (G)

David Foglesong tells the fascinating story of American efforts to liberate and remake Russia since the 1880s. He analyzes the involvement of journalists, political activists, propagandists, missionaries, diplomats, engineers, and others in this grand crusade, paying special attention to the influence of religious beliefs on Americans' sense of duty to emancipate, convert, or reform Russia. He discusses the impact of popular debates about changing Russia on how Americans felt about the United States, showing how the belief that Russia was being remade in America's image reaffirmed faith in America's special virtue and historic mission and that opposition to the spread of American influence in Russia was characterized as evil from the late nineteenth century. While the main focus is on American thinking and action, the book also discusses the responses of Russian and Soviet governments, Russian Orthodox priests, and ordinary Russians to American propaganda campaigns, missionary work, and popular culture.


Introduction; 1. 'Free Russia': origins of the First Crusade, 1881–1905; 2. 'The United States of Russia': culmination and frustration, 1905–20; 3. Doors open and closed: opportunities and obstructions in early Soviet Russia, 1921–40; 4. Revival: hopes for a new Russia during the Grand Alliance, 1941–5; 5. Visions of 'liberation', 1946–53; 6. Evolution, not revolution: the eclipse of 'liberation' and the pursuit of 'liberalization', 1954–74; 7. Recovering the faith: renewal of the Crusade, 1974–80; 8. The Reagan mission and the 'evil empire', 1981–9; 9. Mission unaccomplished: America and post-Soviet Russia; Epilogue.


"This timely and trenchant book looks at the cultural and political roots of American attitudes toward Russia from the late nineteenth century through the present day and makes a strong case that these attitudes have helped keep U.S.-Russian relations moving through an unhappy cycle."
-Foreign Affairs

"Foglesong's book provides a panoramic view of American popular attitudes toward Russia, one that is illustrated with many arresting cartoons and magazine covers. It should provoke a wider debate about the rationality of evaluating Russia with reference to an idealized view of the United States, as well as the deeper sources of this tendency."
-Deborah Welch Larson, H-Diplo

"This is first-rate history, well researched, persuasively argued, and original, and should serve for some time as the standard single-volume work on the full sweep of modern U.S.-Russian relations."
-Walter L. Hixson, H-Diplo

"In the 21st century, the American debate on the prospects of modernizing Russia and on the Americans' role in this process is still going strong even though it began more than a century ago. This is why David Foglesong's book aimed at elucidating the mechanisms of misrepresentations which threaten both Russian-American relations and the world security as a whole is of equal importance for the academic community and for the policy makers in both Russia and the United States."
-Victoria Zhuravleva, H-Diplo

"Foglesong demonstrates that powerful Americans have again and again seen the possibility, even necessity, of spreading the word to Russia, and then, when Russia fails to transform itself into something resembling the US, have recoiled and condemned Russia's perfidious national character or its leaders—most recently Putin. The author's singular achievement is to show that well before the cold war, Russia served as America's dark double, an object of wishful thinking, condescension and self-righteousness in a quest for American purpose—without much to show for such efforts inside Russia. The author thereby places in context the cold war, when pamphleteers like William F Buckley Jr and politicians like Ronald Reagan pushed a crusade to revitalise the American spirit. Russia then was a threat but also a means to America's end (some fixed on a rollback of the alleged Soviet "spawn" inside the US—the welfare state—while others, after the Vietnam debacle, wanted to restore "faith in the United States as a virtuous nation with a unique historical mission"). Foglesong's exposé of Americans' "heady sense of their country's unique blessings" helps make sense of the giddiness, followed by rank disillusionment, vis-à-vis the post-Soviet Russia of the 1990s and 2000s."
-Stephen Kotkin, Prospect Magazine

"[David Foglesong's] sources are copious and the research extensive...He exposes the successes and failures of numerous presidents and diplomats with clarity and makes a fine point of the sharp differences in approach of such leaders as Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush."
-Edward M. Bennett, Emeritus Washington State University, The Journal of American History

"Recommended." -Choice

"Beautifully written and well argued, the book is suitable for use in upper-class electives and graduate courses and should be of interest to speacialists on both sides of the field (U.S. and Soviet)." -History: Reviews of New Books, Irina Mukhina

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