In This Review

Russian Eurasianism: An Ideology of Empire
Russian Eurasianism: An Ideology of Empire
By Marlène Laruelle
Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2008, 296 pp

This book is a tour de force not merely because of the depth of the scholarship and the skill of the argument but also because Laruelle unveils a subject crucial to understanding today's Russia but never given proper due. "Eurasianism," a much-bandied-about label meant to bundle together Russian nationalisms that set the country oª from and usually against the West, in fact has a long and remarkably dense intellectual history stretching back to the 1920s (and with antecedents in the nineteenth century). Laruelle unpacks a maze of exceedingly obscure ideas and links that, notwithstanding their often crosscutting and even contradictory nature, frame a deep emotional base justifying the notion that Russia is primordially distinct from both Europe and Asia -- eternal and spiritually superior. Even the most serious student of contemporary Russia will get from this book a vastly deeper sense of what makes Russian intellectual life, for all of its vexed affinity with the West, fundamentally different.