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Reflections on my visits to Moscow and Washington to visit two of the leading lights of the cold war

By Jonathan Power   February 2008

The stereotype of pre-revolutionary Russia lives on—a despotic tsar, a serf economy that lived long after the abolition of slavery by the Europeans (but not the Americans), and a malign, primitive, Asiatic influence rooted in the savage conquest by the Mongols and the Tartars.

But as the great historian of Europe, Norman Davies, has written, “[Late imperial Russia] was Europe’s chief source of agricultural exports… Russian aristocrats, merchants, artists and professors were thoroughly integrated into every aspect of European life… Politically, Russia was thought be making serious liberal progress after 1905.”

War with Germany threw Russia off the rails. But…

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