In addition to acute intelligence, Trenin has two other rare qualities: a remarkable ability to deal clearly with the complexities of Russia’s politics and external behavior and a capacity to get outside his Russian skin when examining his own country. Both qualities are on full display in this latest of his many books. Russia, he argues, has moved beyond the analytic clichés of Western observers. No longer do its leaders or people suffer from the phantom pain of a lost empire or harbor dreams of restoring what they lost. Russia’s dilemma is post-imperial: how to keep a sprawling, unwieldy, half-remade country intact, when the only popularly tolerated solution -- quasi-authoritarianism -- risks marginalizing the country and leaving it squeezed between two more powerful and dynamic continents, Europe and Asia. With a measured mastery, Trenin probes the many aspects of this dilemma, from Russia’s changing relations with its neighbors and the great powers to the effect of the country’s identity crisis on its economy, demographics, and culture.