• Mark Smith has written a fluent meditation on Russian history, a gallant attempt to reason with those who believe that Russia is condemned to an endless cycle of failed reform and resurgent authoritarianism... his propositions are plausible, a welcome antidote to the overwrought stuff about Russia so widespread in the West today.

    History Today
  • Compelling... Russian history is many layered, Smith argues, and the deeper we dig the more apparent it becomes that the tropes of Russophobic history bear little or no relation to reality. Smith's narrative is much enlivened by the inclusion of biographical sketches depicting those who have created, resisted and lived with the Russia Anxiety. As a Russian history specialist, he deploys his deep knowledge of the country's culture, society and peoples to capture with verve and imagination the grand sweep of its history, and combines this with an astute commentary on contemporary politics.

    Irish Times
  • Fizzing with energy, Mark B. Smith's book explodes many myths about the Russians and compels us to reflect critically on ourselves.

    Simon Dixon, author of CATHERINE THE GREAT