Swimming the Volga: A U.S. Army Officer's Experiences in Pre-Putin Russia

Swimming the Volga: A U.S. Army Officer's Experiences in Pre-Putin Russia - Brigadier General Peter B. Zwack

Swimming the Volga: A U.S. Army Officer's Experiences in Pre-Putin Russia


Swimming the Volga is a personal eyewitness account of day-to-day life in a provincial Russian city during a remarkable period in world history just before the dissolution of the Soviet Union and before the names Putin and Russia became inseparable.


After seventy years of tyranny and oppression under a series of iron-fisted regimes, Russia turned away from its failed social and political experiment. It took its first steps toward adopting a democratic and free-market system under perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness).


During Zwack's regular visits to Kalinin, he witnessed firsthand ordinary people's lives turned upside down by forces they had little or no control over. In the Wild West of the 'new' Russia, a few enterprising Russians quickly figured out how to make vast amounts of money-usually illegally. A nascent mafia mastered the art of bringing necessary and desirable goods to market and extracting 'protection' money from new businesses. Most Russians, however, watched their life savings disappear in two massive devaluations of the ruble in the 1990s.


Written in the days just before the names Putin and Russia became inseparable, Brigadier General Peter B. Zwack (Ret)'s Swimming the Volga is a unique time capsule of a remarkable period in world history. The final chapter of the Cold War ended with the hijacking of Russia's future by rapacious financiers, pyramid schemes, and a new criminal element setting the stage for Putin's arrival, and with it, a more assertive and revanchist Russia. Along the way, the cast of memorable characters in the story reveals their very human dreams, ambitions, fears, missteps, cynicism, resilience, and disillusionment.


What will make Swimming the Volga stand out in the marketplace is the author, who lived and experienced Russian culture firsthand. His many accomplished years of high-ranking military authority, extensive knowledge and grasp of the language and culture, and brilliance as an educator, speaker, and writer. Former Attach� to the Russian Federation, Zwack is a current Global Fellow at The Kennan Institute for Advanced Russia Studies at The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. No one is more qualified to write and speak on this subject than him.


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Swimming the Volga is a personal eyewitness account of day-to-day life in a provincial Russian city during a remarkable period in world history just before the dissolution of the Soviet Union and before the names Putin and Russia became inseparable.


After seventy years of tyranny and oppression under a series of iron-fisted regimes, Russia turned away from its failed social and political experiment. It took its first steps toward adopting a democratic and free-market system under perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness).


During Zwack's regular visits to Kalinin, he witnessed firsthand ordinary people's lives turned upside down by forces they had little or no control over. In the Wild West of the 'new' Russia, a few enterprising Russians quickly figured out how to make vast amounts of money-usually illegally. A nascent mafia mastered the art of bringing necessary and desirable goods to market and extracting 'protection' money from new businesses. Most Russians, however, watched their life savings disappear in two massive devaluations of the ruble in the 1990s.


Written in the days just before the names Putin and Russia became inseparable, Brigadier General Peter B. Zwack (Ret)'s Swimming the Volga is a unique time capsule of a remarkable period in world history. The final chapter of the Cold War ended with the hijacking of Russia's future by rapacious financiers, pyramid schemes, and a new criminal element setting the stage for Putin's arrival, and with it, a more assertive and revanchist Russia. Along the way, the cast of memorable characters in the story reveals their very human dreams, ambitions, fears, missteps, cynicism, resilience, and disillusionment.


What will make Swimming the Volga stand out in the marketplace is the author, who lived and experienced Russian culture firsthand. His many accomplished years of high-ranking military authority, extensive knowledge and grasp of the language and culture, and brilliance as an educator, speaker, and writer. Former Attach� to the Russian Federation, Zwack is a current Global Fellow at The Kennan Institute for Advanced Russia Studies at The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. No one is more qualified to write and speak on this subject than him.


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