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 JournalSee all reviews...
“An outstanding book, providing near encyclopedic information on a relatively understudied period in the U.S.-Soviet relationship. It—alongside the other volumes in Saul’s series—belongs on the bookshelf of every student of the subject.”
—Journal of Slavic Military Studies
“A brilliant, thoroughly researched account, based on both Russian and U.S. sources and breaking new ground in diplomatic, economic, cultural, and social history.”
—International History Review
“Saul spins a fascinating story, stretching from President Woodrow Wilson’s nonrecognition of Soviet Russia to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s extension of Lend-Lease aid. . . . Saul narrates the story with grace, humor and attention to detail.”
—American Historical Review
“Saul’s panoramic view of American-Soviet relations in the crucial decades between the wars offers an array of unusual characters, a glimpse into the everyday life of international contacts, and a series of fascinating vignettes.”
—Journal of American History
“A solid, detailed study of U.S.-Russian relations during the interwar period. Highly recommended.”
“Saul caps one of the most significant historical projects of our time with a magnificently researched (on both the Russian and American sides) volume. . . . Makes an important contribution to our understanding of two decades which were turning-points in twentieth-century history, but also decades in which the leading actors repeatedly failed to make the correct turns.”
—Walter LaFeber, author of America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945–2002
“Saul’s richly detailed panoramic view of American-Russian relations is presented not merely as the formal exchanges between diplomats and political leaders, but also as the wider encounter between peoples and cultures.”
—David S. Foglesong, author of America’s Secret War against Bolshevism: U.S. Intervention in the Russian Civil War, 1917–1920See fewer reviews...
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.