--Image from, with caption: We Russian liberators are so popular we have to wear masks so people won’t kiss us.
Regarding the Oprichnina during Ivan the Terrible's reign:
"Thus," commented a Livonian knight who took service under the Tsar, "they prepared the whip and the birch with their own hands and all those ... devil-masks before which all the spiritual and secular orders bowed down."
Rather surprising that among the Western pundits I've read (and there are so many of them, the pundits!) speculating on Ukraine none of them has mentioned Aksyonov's "Ostrov krym"
in connection with the recent events in that part of the world. Here's a plot summary of a quite remarkable (and humorous) book:
In The Island of Crimea, set on the Crimean peninsula, Aksyonov imagines that Crimea is an autonomous society separated from the Soviet Union. The novel is another social satire reliant on a stretch of the imagination, but it is deemed less surrealistic and far-fetched than Aksyonov's previous works.
It is not unimportant to remember, in connection with the controversial Winter Olympics soon to be held in Sochi in the Russian Federation, that President Vladimir Putin hails from St. Petersburg, the city (in the Soviet era known as Leningrad) created in the early 18th century by Peter the Great...
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United" (http://johnbrownnotesandessays.blogspot.com/2017/03/notes-and-references-for-discussion-e.html). Affiliated with Georgetown University (http://explore.georgetown.edu/people/jhb7/) for over ten years, he still shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."