How a millennia idealizing political greatness has affected Russia
Over the last two decades, it has become clear that Russia insists on its great power status, even at considerable cost. Chasing Greatness provides an interpretive explanation of the tacit rules that shape Russia's great power identity today. Anatoly Reshetnikov argues that this never-ending chase for greatness is a result of how Russia and its predecessors—including the USSR, Russian Empire, Muscovy, and Kievan Rus’—historically interacted with its neighbors to the east, the south, and particularly the west. By analyzing an extensive amount of original source material, including primary sources that have not been previously translated into English, he is able to reconstruct a millennial history of the Russian concepts that express political greatness. He also traces numerous encounters between Russia and the West, as well as Russia’s troubled integration into the European society of states in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to show how these concepts have affected Russia’s interaction with international society.
Despite its substantive historical depth, Chasing Greatness is not a book of history. Rather, it is a synthesizing social science work inspired by the continental tradition of the critical history of modernity. As such, the book is more about the present than about the past. Its main aim is to expose and explain the rich conceptual baggage behind Russia’s unceasing great power rhetoric (domestic and international) and how this rhetoric drives the current international crises involving Russia.
Anatoly Reshetnikov is Assistant Professor of International Relations at Webster University.
“Russia’s claimed great-power status has become a prison of their own making. Essential reading, Chasing Greatness tells how and why.”- Iver B. Neumann, author of The Steppe Tradition in International Relations
“Chasing Greatness offers an insider perspective on Russia and explores how a concept everyone takes for granted such as ‘great power’ has a different history in that setting. Written by one of the best rising scholars of Russia, this book greatly advances our understanding of Russia and Russian foreign policy.”- Ayse Zarakol, University of Cambridge