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“Russia and Civilization”, a Continuum of Russian and Slavic Heritage

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Book Review By Shehab Makahleh —

Dr. Soheil Farah, member of the Russian Academy of Education, has honored me with a copy of his new book entitled “Russia and Civilization: Meaning and Destiny”. Dr. Farah divided his book into seven chapters talking about the geography, history, culture, people and ideology of Russia and its people.

The first chapter of the book dwells on “Russians and the Might of Space” as it focuses on the geographical range, characteristics and unity of nature, the rule of space and power of the will and the Russian spiritual geography. Russia is the biggest country in the world with more than 9 time zones extending from Far East to Far West and from southern parts of Central Asia to the North Pole. The broad European Plains, or Volga River Plain extends from the Ural Mountains to its western borders with Europe. The country’s central and southern region has large fertile areas, marsh, steppes and massive coniferous forests with Siberia as a combination of frozen tundra and hills and mountains.

Chapter two highlights the “Questions of History”, shedding light on Russia in the context of civilization theories, problematic history in the Russian civilization, and philosophy of Russian history. Chapter three which is entitled “The Ethnic and Religious Dimension of the Russian Character” covers a wide range of topics entailing Russia as word and meaning, the country’s ethnic composition, religion as an example of power and the role of the Orthodox Church in fight for Russian identity, and the role of Islam in Russian composition.

Chapter four hinges on “Russian Mentality: Theoretical and Life Dimensions” giving details about Russian mentality and psychological behavior and values as well as tools of managing the geographical range and the economy.

Chapter five, “The Russian Creative Force” covers literary and scientific figures from Pushkin – a poet who is deemed the closest to Russian Soul, to Dostoevsky and Russian Idea, to Iliyn and Russian Creative spirit, to Vernadsky and wisdom of Russian science, to Sorokin whose scientific ideas spread to the west and east of the world.

Chapter six is on “Geopolitics and Russian Force” with special highlights on Russian geopolitics of the west and the east, Russian intelligentsia, and Russian energy triangle. Chapter seven entitled “Russia between the Stumbling of Modernization and the Challenge of Globalization” focuses on reasons why modernization stumbles in Russia as well as Russian civilization in the cultural modernization era.

The author concludes his profound analytical writing on Russian history and Russian destiny, giving future indicators of Russian civilization.

The book covers the entirety of geographic, ethnic and ideological spectrum of Russia. Up to three-quarters of the Russian population live west of the Urals, which is deemed part of Europe. However, Russia has really been considered neither European nor Asian, but rather a combination of both which makes it unique in its character with many ethnicities that make up the country. In other words, diversity makes it stronger.

The historical cultural elements and traditions which influenced Russia as its identity and civilization are the major reasons for its existence for hundreds of years so far.