Alexander Yanov

(born 1930) is a historian educated in Moscow. He was professor of history and politics at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and, until retirement, at the City University of New York. He has written a number of widely translated books on Russian history and politics (e.g. The Origins of Autocracy: Ivan the Terrible in Russian history, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981, The Russian Challenge and the Year 2000, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1987) as well as contemporary Russian nationalism (e.g. Weimar Russia and What We Can Do About It, New York: Slovo-Word, 1995). His most recent works (in Russian) are “Russia: At the Roots of the Tragedy, 1462-1584” (Moscow: Progress-Traditsiya, 2001) and “Patriotism and Nationalism in Russia, 1825-1921” (Moscow: Akademkniga, 2002).


Larry Wolff from the US and Alexander Yanov from Russia discuss in this exchange of letters Russia’s relation to Europe. With regard to its historical legacy, they reflect where Russia bases its political and cultural home. Is Russia maybe marked by a “civilisational instability” and “inability for political modernisation” that fundamentally set it apart from Europe? And if Russia belongs to Europe, as Wolff and Yanov argue, what defines “Europeanism” in the first place?

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