Book Talk. In Putin's Footsteps: Searching for the Soul of an Empire Across Russia's Eleven Time Zones

Monday, April 15, 2019
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room, 1219 International Affairs Building, 420 W. 118 St., New York, NY 10027

Please join us for a lecture by Nina Khrushcheva, co-author of In Putin's Footsteps: Searching for the Soul of an Empire Across Russia's Eleven Time Zones (St. Martin's Press, February 2019).

[This event will be streamed on our Facebook page via Facebook Live. Follow us and enable Facebook Live notifications to watch the event.]

After taking over from Boris Yeltsin in 1999, and then being elected president in a landslide three months later, Vladimir Putin traveled to almost two dozen countries and a quarter of Russia’s eighty-nine regions to connect with ordinary Russians all within his first year inoffice. Putin’s travels inspired the idea of a rousing New Year’s Eve address to demonstrate the nation’s greatness and restore pride within the country. He would deliver his speech every hour at midnight throughout Russia’s eleven time zones. The idea was beautiful, but quickly abandoned as an impossible feat to accomplish in just one night.

In the spring and summer of 2017, Nina Khrushcheva, great-granddaughter of Former Soviet Union Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and journalist Jeffrey Tayler wanted to find out how Putin’s idea of restoring pride to Russia has been playing out across the country. Over the course of a few months, they set out and traveled what would have been this New Year’s Eve trip.

In Putin's Footsteps: Searching for the Soul of an Empire Across Russia’s Eleven Time Zones follows the authors as they traveled across Russia’s eleven time zones and examined how a town in each time zone is defined by certain factors – politics, natural resources, educational institutions, society, ethnic and religious diversity, and strategic geographic assets – to create a portrait of Russia. They ultimately argue that these factors make Russia one of the two indispensable nations on Earth, the other one being the United States.

Khrushcheva was born and raised in Moscow within a family in a position of political power. She later moved to the United States as a young adult to attend graduate school and has since made New York her home. Tayler, meanwhile, was born, raised in the United States, and educated there, as well as in Italy, and Spain. Then twenty-five years ago, around the same time as Khrushcheva was making the United States her home, he moved to Russia currently living in Moscow and reporting on the country. A unique combination of travelogue, current affairs, and history, In Putin's Footsteps shows Russia through the eyes of two people who have lived almost mirror image lives.

What Putin correctly intuited back in 1999 was that the success of his presidency would rest on how the country’s outback citizens viewed their place on the world stage. Today more than ever, Putin is even more determined to present Russia as a formidable nation. In Putin's Footsteps helps us to understand why Russia has for centuries been seen as an adversary of the West, and how its size, nuclear arsenal, arms industry, and scientific community (including cyber-experts) guarantees its influence.


About the Authors

NINA KHRUSHCHEVA is the author of Imagining Nabokov and The Lost Khrushchev, a Professor of International Affairs at New School University, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Her work has appeared in NewsweekThe New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and The Financial Times, among others.




A contributing editor at The Atlantic and the New York Times Notable author of seven books, JEFFREY TAYLER has reported on Russia and the former Soviet Union for Foreign Policy, Harper’s Magazine, Conde Nast TravelerNational Geographic, and more. He lives in Moscow.