Contrary to a popular belief that nationalism has been a dark force behind Russia's past aggression -- and therefore lurks as a danger in today's angry and frustrated Russia -- Tuminez shows how little nationalism had to do with the expansionism of either imperial Russia or the Soviet Union. Indeed, the failure of both regimes to develop a constructive nationalism linking society to state remains one of the great impediments to nation-building in the new Russia. However, Tuminez also examines two instances (after the Crimean War and before World War I) when pathological nationalism did play a role in Russian politics. Nationalist strains exist today, but they have not caught the public or elite imagination for various reasons, including a generally unthreatening international setting. Tuminez ends the book with her fingers crossed, though, because she is uncertain whether such obstacles will hold in the future.