Russia propelled my career as a writer, journalist and lecturer. It all began when my parents took me to see the film Doctor Zhivago when I was a teenager.
This was in the mid-1960s, at the height of the Cold War, when anyone interested in Russia was suspected (like I often was) of being either a Communist or a spy. The exotic drama and turmoil of Russian history enthralled me, the monolithic power of the Soviet Union and its impossibly idealistic system of Communism. Soon I was reading Dostoyevsky’s novels, singing in a Russian chorus, studying in Leningrad for a college summer and becoming fluent in this expressive and challenging language.
I took the Trans-Siberian railroad from Moscow to the Pacific one golden September and marveled at the incredible expanse and variety of the Soviet empire.
How Russians and Soviet citizens have been viewed in the USA intrigued me, leading to my several books on that subject. I came to know Russian emigres living in America, and saw the enormous contribution many had made to the arts and culture in their adopted country.
I have written on many other subjects, of course, but Russia in all its stunning contradictions and cultural richness continues to beckon, to fascinate, to perplex—and inspire.