But instead of moving on, I stayed. Before I knew it, I was off to Russia for my junior year abroad. As soon as I graduated, I started writing about Russian culture and politics and translating Russian texts.
It seemed I had arrived too late. By the time I started publishing on Russia, the Boris Yeltsin era had collapsed in ignominy and Mr. Yeltsin himself had been replaced by a small gray ghoul named Vladimir Putin. Interest in Russia declined, then cratered. For years the only reliable way to sell an article about Russia was to focus on someone who had been killed or arrested, or to find some other creative way of underscoring how evil Mr. Putin was.