Today, when Russia has regained its power on the world stage and Putin is restoring many of the old traditions and systems, it is helpful to understand what Russia was like at the time of transformation set in motion by Gorbachev and continued by Yeltsin. For a time Russia went through a period called "glasnost" and "perestroika" when all things seemed possible and a spirit of democracy was in the air. The Soviet Union was breaking up and everyday citizens were imagining a new democratic future, though this restructuring soon led to a rampant period of new capitalism and crime, before the crackdown and new economic transformation under Putin.
Before the Modern Russian Revolution is a look back at this time of rapid change be a sociologist and anthropologist who traveled to the Russia and other countries that were then part of the Soviet Union. She traveled there three times between 1987 and 1990. This book describes her journey there in 1988 as part of a citizen diplomacy group that offered an opportunity to make personal connections with people in all walks of life. It is an engaging personal account of a journey to the Soviet Union done the "citizen diplomacy" way - meeting people face to face in their homes, schools, churches, courtrooms, and marketplaces. It takes you to the heart of Soviet daily life, where you will meet working mothers, the new entrepreneurs, lawyers, artists, journalist, psychologists, and others. While providing a marked contrast to the lifestyle of Russians today, these portraits help to provide insight into the new society Russia has become.