Modernization From the Other Shore: American Intellectuals and the Romance of Russian Development

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Modernization From the Other Shore: American Intellectuals and the Romance of Russian Development

By David C. Engerman
Harvard University Press, 2003
410 pp. $49.95
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This fascinating, full-blown account of how Russia was reflected in the American mind ranges from the late 1800s, across the 1917 Revolution, and into the harsh, hopeful, tragic assault of modernization in the 1930s. What began with the travel adventures of people such as the senior George Kennan by the turn of the century widened to include the founders of Russian studies in the United States, Archibald Cary Coolidge and Samuel Harper, as well as their students and wealthy well-connected patrons such as Charles Crane. They, the author argues, applied to the Russian autocracy and peasantry stereotypes of national character as surely as did their less expert forerunners and then exported these images into the Wilson, Coolidge, and Harding administrations. Their intellectual successors carried on, idealizing the modernizing model they expected the Soviet Union to be and closing their eyes to the human cost. Engerman digs deep into decades of published and unpublished writings by a broad spectrum of Russia experts and traces with skill their impact on government.