||"With proof of election-meddling and the relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin an ongoing conundrum, little wonder many Americans are experiencing what historian Mark B. Smith calls "the Russia Anxiety." This is no new phenomenon. Time and time again, the West has judged Russia on assumptions of its inherent cunning, malevolence, and brutality. Yet for much of its history, Russia functioned no differently-or at least no more dysfunctionally-than other absolutist, war-mongering European states. So what is it about this country that so often provokes such excessive responses? And why is this so dangerous? Russian history can indeed be viewed as a catalog of brutal violence, in which a rotation of secret police-from Ivan the Terrible's Oprichina to Andropov's KGB and Putin's FSB-hold absolute sway. However, as Smith shows, there are nevertheless deeper political and cultural factors that could lead to democratic outcomes. Violence is not an innate element of Russian culture, and Russia is not unknowable. From foreign interference and cyber-attacks to mega-corruption and nuclear weapons, Smith uses Russia's sprawling history to throw light on contemporary concerns. Smith reveals how the past has created today's Russia and how this past offers hints about its future place in the world-one that reaches beyond crisis and confrontation"-- Provided by publisher.