Friends or Foes?

The United States and Soviet Russia, 1921-1941

Norman E. Saul

With Friends or Foes? Norman Saul continues his monumental multivolume magnum opus on U.S.-Russian relations over the course of 200 years. This fourth volume provides the first comprehensive study in any language of an era that shaped the rest of the century and captures the major changes in relations between two nations on the verge of becoming dominant global powers.

Among other things, Saul examines the rationale for America's failure to recognize the Soviet government through the early 1930s, analyzing the impact of the Red Scare and the roles of the State Department, Russian migrs, religious groups, and key individuals—like Charles Evans Hughes, Robert Kelley, Herbert Hoover, Boris Skvirsky, Olga Kameneva, and Maxim Litvinov—on the policy process.

“The fourth volume of Saul’s monumental study. . . . Like the preceding volumes, [this one] ranges widely in subject matter and source material, and it presents an extensive cast of characters, from the most influential statesmen of the era to long-obscure American adventurers and fortune hunters. . . . the book’s purpose is to provide a detailed portrait of the myriad official and unofficial points of contact and perceptions of the two countries during the interwar period, a task it fulfills admirably.

—Journal of Modern History

“A comprehensive book that provides us with some very perceptive new insights and useful commentary into not just the machinations at the top regarding diplomacy but also at the grass roots level of individual everyday interactions. Saul should be highly commended for his seminal contribution to our knowledge of U.S.-Russian relations.

—New Zealand Slavonic Journal
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In addition, he recalls the American Relief Administration's gigantic effort to help Russian peasants and garners new material from American business records on concession arrangements and commerce and on Soviet responses during the first Five Year Plan. He also records travelers' impressions, cultural exchange, and the role of academia in each country—particularly the contribution of Russian émigré scholars to American education and the contributions of American journalists in Russia.

Saul also reveals the tendency on both sides to preserve an atmosphere of secrecy, conducting business behind closed doors and rarely on paper. His prodigious research in the Hoover Presidential Library, the Franklin Roosevelt Library, and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University-incorporating overlooked Diplomat Post Records and featuring an interview with George Kennan on his diplomatic role—has yielded a wealth of new insights into what really happened during a period in the history of the relations between the two countries that remains mysterious and controversial.

Breaking new ground in diplomatic, economic, social, and cultural history, Saul's book illuminates both the mutual fascination that briefly permitted peaceful coexistence (and eventual alliance) and the ideological battles that ultimately led to the Cold War.

About the Author

Normal E. Saul is professor of history and Russian and East European studies at the University of Kansas and the author of Distant Friends: The United States and Russia, 1763-1867, winner of the Byron Caldwell Smith Award; Concord and Conflict: The United States and Russia, 1867-1914, winner of the Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize; and War and Revolution: The United States and Russia, 1914-1921.