Motherland: A Philosophical History of Russia by Lesley Chamberlain
In this "lucid primer of Russian thought" (The Times Literary Supplement), Lesley Chamberlain finds that during the last two centuries Russian intellectuals have asked two fundamental questions, "what makes a good man?" and "what is the right way to live?"
The nineteenth-century ideal of a happy man living in a just society became, in Russia, a quest to effect the wholesale transformation of society. Chamberlain shows how this moral passion, manifesting itself in philosophy and literature, existed in both pre- and post-revolutionary Russia. She reveals that 1917 did not represent the watershed we once thought, and shows how the dreams of a plain and simple life reached its negative apotheosis under Lenin. In Motherland, Lesley Chamberlain has produced a radical new interpretation of Russian intellectual history that, finally, gives a glimpse in to the soul of that singular country.