Gary Saul Morson reviews Between Two Millstones, Book 1

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The eminent Russian scholar Gary Saul Morson reviews Between Two Millstones, Book 1 in the Winter 2019 issue of The American Scholar.

When Solzhenitsyn called for gradual change to democracy and observed that “it is not authoritarianism that is intolerable, but . . . arbitrariness and illegality,” Western journalists gasped. When he castigated the shallowness of reporters, they accused him of opposing a free press. And when they discovered he had embraced Russian Orthodox Christianity, and hoped for a Russian spiritual rebirth, they called him a dangerous, perhaps fascist, nationalist. This charge particularly mystified Solzhenitsyn, because in his “Letter” he recommend Russia give up its domination over Eastern Europe and let the “peripheral nations” of the Soviet Union go their own way: “Let us find the strength, sense, and courage to put our own house in order before we busy ourselves with the cares of the entire planet.” What sort of nationalist calls for his country to give up its empire?
— Gary Saul Morson