Title Reviewed:
American Research on Russia

Author Reviewed:
Harold H. Fisher

Robert F. Byrnes


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 97-98

Article Type:
Book Review

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American Research on Russia. Edited by Harold H. Fisher. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1959. Pp. xiv, 240. Notes, index. $5.00.)

This is a most useful volume for everyone interested in research and instruction in the United States on Russia. Edited by Professor Harold H. Fisher, one of the pioneers of the study of Russian affairs in this country and for many years director of the Hoover Institute (formerly the Hoover Library for War, Revolution, and Peace) at Stanford University, it was written at the suggestion of a subcommittee of the Joint Committee on Slavic Studies of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council. This subcommittee, in its review of research and instruction on Russia in this country, also stimulated the work which led to a companion volume, The Study of Russia in American Education, edited by Professor Cyril E. Black, of Princeton University, and Professor John M. Thompson, of Indiana University, published early in 1960 by the Indiana University Press. These two volumes together describe what is known and what is being taught—or, alas, not known and not taught—about Russia, and also make a number of pointed suggestions concerning what should be done in the years ahead.

The essays in American Research on Russia are not bibliographical articles, but critical reviews of American scholarship in particular disciplines—history, economics, political science, philosophy and religion, social relations, science, geography, literature, linguistics, music, and architecture and minor arts—with emphasis on the quality of the published work and, above all, on the kinds of subjects neglected thus far. The essays naturally vary in quality, and one receives the impression that they often follow the tradition of American book reviews in being too cautious and tender in comments upon the books and articles that have been published.

For this reviewer, among the most interesting and stimulating essays were Philip Mosely's fine survey of "The Growth of Russian Studies" in this country since 1900 and the essays on some of the disciplines in which little effective research has yet been done, especially the one on social relations by Arthur S. Barron, that on science by John Turkevich, and that on music by Robert M. Slusser. These latter essays are particularly clear in suggesting guidelines for future research.

If American scholars and administrators read this volume with care, the funds which will certainly be invested in research on Russia will be wisely spent. The disciplines in which little research has been done will remain weak unless those with most responsibility in our training programs direct more funds and energy into these neglected fields. Errors in the next few years will lead to an unfortunate lack of balance in Russian studies, a weakness which is already apparent and which will become of especial significance as more and more attention is devoted to Russia at all levels of our educational system.

Indiana University Robert F. Byrnes

Published by the Indiana University Department of History.