Orlando Figes provides valuable lessons about the mythologizing of Russia’s past in a new survey of the country’s history, Gregory Feifer (Russia, 2000-2002) writes for The New York Times. A British historian whose previous books include social and cultural histories of Russia, Figes aims to explain how central narratives used to justify the current leadership have been shaped and exploited over centuries.

“Too little is understood about the central role obfuscation has played from the very beginning of [Putin’s] more than two-decade rule,” Feifer writes, “and how the president has deeply tapped into central tropes of Russia’s traditional political culture to pose as his country’s sole savior.”


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Photo: Baptism of Saint Prince Vladimir, by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1890