These two books are the much-delayed products of conferences held in Shanghai and Moscow, part of a broader program sponsored by the Luxembourg Institute of European and International Studies on the "vitality of nations." The idea is to bring together a diverse collection of domestic and foreign experts, plus a few generalists, to discuss the elements accounting for a country's historical and contemporary vitality (or its lack thereof). The results--prepared papers supplemented by a lightly edited transcript of conference dialogue--are disjointed but fascinating, particularly the exchanges between local and foreign specialists and the illumination of the role of history in shaping contemporary thinking and perceptions.
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