Thursday, June 9, 2011 51 Comments

Slow history extravaganza

(I apologize for the hiatus. As usual, I've been way too busy with the engineering track. The rotary jumbulator now rotates fully, but small sparks keep appearing in the charged ion duct - which of course precludes any activation outside the facility.)
So why not grapple with some slow history? Slow history, which is a lot like slow food but cheaper, is no more than the habit of reading old books, whole and unframed. By "old" we generally mean pre-WWII, or better yet pre-1923 (the copyright cutoff date). By "unframed" we mean: take the work seriously, without "deconstructing" or patronizing.
Frankly: slow history is cool. Isn't Mark Zuckerberg cool? Mr. Zuckerberg is taking slow food seriously. This year, the only meat he'll eat is meat he's killed himself. While morally admirable in every way, this may conflict with your renter's agreement. So why not take slow history seriously instead - and kill your own past?
Indeed the past is quite literally dead. But might it not be listening? You can say one of two things to the past. You can read about the past, or you can read the past. You don't think it sees you, but maybe it does. Do you want to piss it off?
When you read about the past, you say to the past: Past, I despise you. I want to read about you - to remind me how much better my world is without you. And of course, you make a nice undergraduate exercise for training future lawyers and MBAs.
When you read the writers of the past, you tell them: Past, I admire and cherish you. I want to meet you, answer your questions, fill you in on the whole wild world of 2011. I can't do that. But I can read you - and I promise to treat you with the same respect I expect from my peers.
Describing practitioners of both these arts as "historians" is like classifying muggers and policemen as "crime professionals." Indeed if you have a decent 21st-century education, you've spent time enough in the tutelage of these muggers of the past, for there are more history professionals than ever before. (In fact our own era has its policemen as well - few and far between. You won't run into them by accident.)
You think of a hamburger as something you get at McDonald's. Your Big Mac is made of actual beef, no doubt, from actual cows. There is nothing really wrong with it, besides the fact that it's been industrially processed into culinary oblivion.
Chez Panisse will also serve you a hamburger. The difference between fast history and slow history is the difference between a Big Mac, and a grass-fed Niman Ranch with a hand-cut square of aged raw-milk white cheddar. The former is certainly more efficient. You can learn all the beefy and factual facts you care to absorb from textbooks, Wikipedia, and even academic sources. Fast history, like McDonald's, is a magnificent production. All we're saying is that McDonald's is not, and will never be, Chez Panisse.
Is UR Chez Panisse? Chez Panisse is pretty expensive. UR is free, if only because we can just link straight to our beef. And in concert (but not collaboration) with the admirable, if perhaps misguided, humanity-lovers who scanned these works in bulk, we are proud to present our first three Limited Edition Slow History Action Paks, for your summer beach enjoyment - each available exclusively to UR readers at no cost whatsoever.
Our first Action Pak is the only one we've presented so far. This one-step, high-power Pak, ideal for the younger and more flexible mind, delivers a huge triple dose of hardcore 19th-century reaction directly to the upper brainstem. Users, who should not be over the age of 45, are warned to allow two or three days for a complete recovery.
Naturally, we've dubbed this Action Pak, our original and still most popular, the Imperial Reaction Instant Red-Pill Super Victorian Headcharge. The Super Victorian Headcharge contains (in this order):
Sir Henry Maine, Popular Government (1886)
James Anthony Froude, The Bow of Ulysses (1888)
Thomas Carlyle, Latter-Day Pamphlets (1850)
Warning! The Headcharge contains the maximum legal dose of undiluted High Victorian reactionary thought. If your usual fare is, say, Instapundit, sip slowly and with caution. If you are still, God help us, a "progressive," God may be able to help you - I'm not sure I can. Try the medicine anyway, if only because you have so little to lose. Even for the prepared, these are difficult works - especially the last.
(Completion of all three works in the Super Victorian Headcharge qualifies you automatically for membership in the exclusive Froude Society - pronounced "Frood." Contrary to some reports, the FS is not a "paramilitary cult," nor do its small decorative armbands constitute any kind of "uniform." It's true that we'd prefer a dictatorship - but who wouldn't these days?)
If you're not ready for a Super Victorian Headcharge - or if you loved it, and wouldn't mind a little top-off - we've expanded our programming to create, for the first time ever, two new Extended Play Slow History Supplemental Action Paks. Despite the name, there is no prerequisite for these experiences, each of which is complete and satisfying in and of itself.
We call our first Extended Pak the Old America Quantum Tourist Psycho Railroad. Profoundly steampunk in every way, the Psycho Railroad slams you into Victorian America with three hardened European travelers, two British and one French. Ride the Psycho Railroad! Oysters served at every hour! You've never taken a trip like this before:
Charles Mackay, Life and Liberty in America (1859) [skip Canada, it's boring]
George Steevens, Land of the Dollar (1898)
Paul Bourget, Outre-Mer (1895)
Don't be afraid to visit Old America - but note that slow history is not always "safe for work." There's a big difference between a period book club and a reactionary sabotage squad. Make sure you and your friends stay on the right side of that line.
Finally, we fear some UR readers have a rebellious bent. Just for them, we've created the Varina's Revenge Sith Civil War Confederate Mindbomb - our first tentative step into this most divisive of American conflicts.
Deo vindice! Now you too, regardless of the premasticated opinions with which McDonald's once supplied you, can grow and learn and change, and become a 21st-century post-Confederate (what separates a post-Confederate from a neo-Confederate? That he gets his Confederacy from Google Books, not the Dukes of Hazzard) in the privacy of your own home.
And private is exactly the way to keep it! The Confederate Mindbomb, like all our products, ships in an unmarked package for absolute discretion. (Again, for advertised results, always read our carefully engineered selections in the order specified - this is especially important with the Mindbomb.)
Charles Francis Adams Jr., Shall Cromwell Have a Statue? (1902)
Adm. Raphael Semmes, Memoirs of Service Afloat (1869)
James Redpath, The Roving Editor (1859)
Being Extended, each of UR's new Action Paks ships with a special Extra Credit Prix-Fixe Dessert, which will add additional flavor but can be skipped by readers on the go. Dessert for the Old America Quantum Tourist Psycho Railroad is Moisei Ostrogorskiy, Democracy and the Party System in the United States (1910). Dessert for the Varina's Revenge Sith Civil War Confederate Mindbomb is Nehemiah Adams, A South-Side View of Slavery (1860).
Readers should use the space below to discuss these fine works - or even suggest their own alternatives. Stick to the format, please.


Anonymous Divers said...

Related to the Varina Pak: have you read anything by or about Matthew Fontaine Maury or James D. Bulloch?

Matthew Maury tried to start a new Virginia Colony in Mexico after the war - and there's even a Hapsburg connection via Emperor Maximilian, who sounds quite decent.

The Life of Maury, by his daughter.

You could do a whole post on Emperor Maximilian I vs. Benito Juarez. Did you know that Lincoln shipped arms to Juarez's revolutionary liberals?

James D. Bulloch helped run the Confederate Secret Service in Europe, did not receive a pardon, and apparently chose to become an Englishman and staunch Tory.

Bulloch's The Secret Service of the Confederate States in Europe: Or, How the Confederate Cruisers Were Equipped:
vol. 1
vol. 2

June 9, 2011 at 7:46 AM  
Anonymous totalesturns said...

I've made it through Froude but haven't yet had time for Maine or Carlyle. If "sticking to the format" means picking three different writers and giving the combination a clever name, I can't do it, but I have to commend the Google Books availability of Irving Babbitt. Start with Literature and the American College, proceed to Rousseau and Romanticism, regret that the wrong side won in the debate over the elective humanities curriculum, curse your undergrad Queer Theory lecturer as a knave and a fool.

For more on What Literary Study Used To Look Like, there's the first volume of George Saintsbury's History of Criticism and Literary Taste in Europe (vols. 2 and 3 appear not to have been scanned) and his various subject works, which I'm too lazy to link. Moldbug and others may also find useful his History of English Prosody.

June 9, 2011 at 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Victorian explorers and big-game hunters were very observant and candid about the inhabitants of Britain's far-flung colonies. Col. Henry Astbury Leveson ("the Old Shekarry") makes some very telling remarks about West Africa in "The Forest and the Field" (1874). William Cotton Oswell, Roualeyn Gordon Cumming, and of course Sir Samuel Baker are better-known and all well worth reading. Even if you don't care about big game hunting, the anthropology in them (which is there purely for lagniappe) is delightfully un-PC.

As for "paramilitary cults," back when there was all the controversy over the "militia movement," a fellow enthusiast and I contemplated forming "The First Northwest Double Rifles," the qualification for which would be that each member had to arm himself with a double rifle in an express calibre. Needless to say, it would have been an exclusive outfit. Perhaps our regimental mess could be held jointly with the Froude Society's annual dinner. I'd volunteer my field tantalus with its silver cups, and an adequate supply of champagne for the occasion.

In the Varina Pak, include the novels of Thomas Dixon. They were very popular in their day, but of course are execrated now by the "muggers of the past." That doesn't make them any less true in their representations of the War, Reconstruction, and Redemption. Dixon would not be the least bit surprised by current Department of Justice statistics on race and crime.

June 9, 2011 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Vladimir said...

Google Books does not seem to carry all of the "Imperial Reaction Instant Red-Pill Super Victorian Headcharge" in my country; the books are available in preview form if they exist at all. Instead I have looked for paper copies, and so far only found Carlyle's book.

While I promise not to complain to you if reading it permanently harms my brainstem (and will most likely be unable to do so if it bricks my cerebral cortex) I do wonder if it will in any way impair the effectiveness of the headcharge? Advice welcome.

June 9, 2011 at 11:07 AM  
Anonymous tenkev said...

I need more than this.

June 9, 2011 at 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anybody know of a reader that will KEEP YOUR FUCKING PLACE, preferably cross-platform (web browser,iPhone or Android)? Google Books sure as hell doesn't. I tend to get 70 or so pages into a book and then get tired of looking for my place each time.

June 9, 2011 at 4:20 PM  
Anonymous josh said...


kindle keeps your place just fine.

I'm just finishing Lunt's "The Origin of the Late War" after having read in the past six months "the Abolitionist Crusade" and Edgard Lee Masters Lincoln bio. All mm recomendations, none on the confed. list.

I have read the Adams "southside view of slavery", but a small part of me wishes I hadn't. That along with Cannibals All and Carlyle are books you really can't unread. It's one thing to be able to make legalistic arguments for the south or to point out northern perfidiousness; it's quite another to have a fairly sound defense of slavery (both theoretical and actual) in your head.

June 9, 2011 at 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I suggest the neo-HBD Upstart Smackdown Kit. Administer to young enthusiasts who believe that some Chinese guy just discovered race realism last month.
Lothrop Stoddard. The Rising Tide of Color.
Madison Grant. The Passing of the Great Race.
Francis Galton. Letter to the Times on the African Problem 1875.
Apologize for no links. These iPads are fiddly fuckers.
Gilbert P.

June 9, 2011 at 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Peter A. Taylor said...

Josh, do you recommend the Masters biography of Lincoln?

June 9, 2011 at 8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Universal Democracy Fucks Up the Rest of Africa: Egypt’s Economy Slows to a Crawl; Revolt Is Tested:

I seems like the Times is even parodying itself now.

"He expected a better life after the revolution, he said, but instead he was laid off from his $10-a-day job in a souvenir factory.

"People in the neighborhood are talking about going back to the streets for another revolution — a hunger revolution.

"We increased wages after the revolution, and a month later the workers went on strike again and asked for even higher wages,

"Many people here believe this revolution was a curse on us poor, simple folks,” he said. “They just want to be able to survive.

Plus, Islamic Communism!

June 9, 2011 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger bluejin said...

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June 10, 2011 at 1:27 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

Of the books I just mentioned, that was the one I enjoyed the least. Not that it wasn't good. Masters was basically giving the prosecutions case against Lincoln. Though it's less Lincoln, the tyrant and more Lincoln, the hack.

I think I have some understanding of Lincoln's character now (cold yet affable, indecisive yet calculating, a bit meek) and his habits (he didn't read except the newspaper and received all of his radical philosophy second hand, was unmannered and a terrible husband), and some interesting biographical stuff (standing up Mary Todd at the alter, attending camp revivals with weird sexual rituals as a child).

The problem is, Lincoln the Man didn't much matter except that he let other men influence his administration. Lincoln was a second rate politician selected for his demographic characteristics. I believe Lunt put it "He was no more a tyrant than he was a statesman."

As with all of the Civil War books mentioned, it helps you gain a better understanding of what the old constitution was and how it was destroyed while keeping the old forms. I would still read Lunt or Hilary first if you haven't already (unless you are particularly interesting in Lincoln).

BTW, every book MM mentioned is available on Kindle for free.

June 10, 2011 at 5:31 AM  
Anonymous The Monk said...

Vladimir, I suggest you use a proxy located in a country to which Google Books does make full versions available. Thanks to a spat with the Indian government (ah, democracy! How do I love thee!), Google books only gives me meagre previews. I have, of course, never let that stop me.

June 10, 2011 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger bgc said...

@MM "Froude Society - pronounced "Frood."

Are you sure about that? I lived my early childhood in Froude Avenue, Torquay, Devon - which was near to JA Froude's birthplace - and we always pronounced it frowd to rhyme with crowd.

Or was this a subtle pun to bring-out the slow food/ slow Frood relation?...

June 10, 2011 at 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Alat said...

Vladimir, try the Internet Archive:

It has many works which Google doesn't carry (or only snippets), and I generally find its versions better too.

June 10, 2011 at 3:44 PM  
Anonymous Peter A. Taylor said...

Thanks, Josh.

June 10, 2011 at 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Thucydides said...

If you want a Confederate mind bomb, a better choice would be Jefferson David, "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government."

Link here:

Another excellent choice is Weaver's "The Southern Tradition at Bay," but this is still under copyright.

June 10, 2011 at 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jefferson Davis*, forgive the typo.

June 10, 2011 at 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Aigio said...

"The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government." is a must read even for a non native speaker as myself!

June 11, 2011 at 3:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul Gottfried seems a lot happier (and more combative) now that he's completely severed his links with academia:

June 11, 2011 at 7:29 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

What's the general UR consensus on Foote's 3-volume Civil War? ) I've just started it.) Worthwhile? Tolerable? Or Anti-victorian Buffered Blue-Pill Headscramble?

June 11, 2011 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger J said...

Your rotating charged ion duct is a Koshkareff machine? does it transmit energy or has some medical application? Is it patentable?

June 11, 2011 at 11:52 AM  
Anonymous AYY said...

I don't pretend to be an expert on slow history, but a few years ago I read the Oxford edition of selected parliamentary speeches of Thomas Macaulay. He displayed a level of eloquence that we seldom see today. The book was a fascinating insight into what was happening in Britain at the time.

MM, if you don't mind a fiction recommendation, for some not-too-well known fiction of the late 1800's-early 1900's era that has some bite and still holds up well today, try The Life of Augustus Carp by Himself, and The Nebuly Coat by J Meade Falkner.

For something high quality but not too well known from an even earlier era try Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg.

June 11, 2011 at 11:19 PM  
Anonymous JP said...

The 20th Century Foreign Policy Pak:

Anthony Sutton:

Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution

Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler

Wall Street and FDR

David Hoggan:

The Forced War

Harry Elmer Barnes:

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace

Charles Tansill:

Back Door to War: Roosevelt's Foreign Policy 1933-41

George Morgenstern:

Pearl Harbor: The Story of the Secret War

June 12, 2011 at 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hoggan may be a bridge too far.

June 12, 2011 at 3:11 PM  
Anonymous JP said...

I included Hoggan bc he is the closest thing I have found to MMs view of the origins of WW2.

June 13, 2011 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger alexi de sadesky said...


I will second that "Confessions" recommendation. Hogg is the tits.

June 13, 2011 at 5:04 PM  
Anonymous Polly Prissypants said...

All this, and still no wine list or cheese board!

ugh. Philistines.

June 14, 2011 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Robin Hanson has a post on why people advocate "left wing" dictatorial regulation but not old fashioned right wing dictatorial authority. Maybe somebody should go over and defend the general principle of dictatorship.

June 14, 2011 at 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For anyone that reads udolpho/mypostingcareer and bitcoins (which moldbug has mentioned before), this link might be of interest:

Somethingawful goons (who the guys over at MPC hate, which I agree with, goons are fucking idiots), had a play in the recent crash of bitcoins.

tl;dr: left wing SA goons have declared a war against bitcoin.

June 16, 2011 at 5:23 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Enjoying "Memoirs of service afloat". Love the second port, where they fired a blank over the Dutch council-chamber meeting while awaiting permission to dock.
Pages 152-154:
If nothing else those two and half pages are more entertaining than anything they could possibly have on TV.


First page:

Picture of the CSS Sumter – It's a screw sloop.(

Pages 148-150 (1st paragraph) -
This last page is very prophetic about technology and warfare.

June 20, 2011 at 7:54 AM  
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June 20, 2011 at 8:46 PM  
Anonymous Ron Potato said...

Don Colacho's Aphorisms Are Down?

At Blogger requests a login and then denies access because the reader must be "invited".

Is there a mirror or backup of these?

I am surprised the author would go through all the trouble only to rely solely on Blogger, leaving the maxims to die in the momentary sands of the Internet.

June 23, 2011 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Gene Callahan said...

Third Policeman?

June 23, 2011 at 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

June 24, 2011 at 1:26 AM  
Blogger Ivan Jankovic said...

June 24, 2011 at 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don-colacho backup:

(Apologies if duped, blogger is eating my comments)

June 24, 2011 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger Matt Beck said...

I highly recommend sitting down to a steaming buffet of Oswald Spengler. If you're not ready to stomach The Decline of the West (which, granted, is something of a 96-ouncer), at least whet your appetite with The Hour of Decision. I don't personally subsribe to Spengler's historiography or his irreligion, but his high poetry and devastating critique of liberalism is enough to make him required reading for any committed anti-modernist.

June 25, 2011 at 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the cleon skousen commemorative squatting-jew value pak:

theological-political treatise, spinoza

the doctrine of state and the principles of state law

the letters of runnymede, disraeli

June 26, 2011 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger Zimri said...

"I don't often spam other sites... but when I do:"

I have finished the post on my site on Proletarian orality; Brahmin journalism. It is appropriately, for this site, long and epic.

I've decided that the last two decade's attempts to discredit Redemption and to rehabilitate Reconstruction are shite. (We all decided that awhile ago, of course; but the Flash Mob phenomenon and attendant media silence has provided me with a great provision of coffin-nails.)

June 30, 2011 at 5:11 PM  
Anonymous josh said...

Is anybody else reading Mackay? Mencius is write about the New York scenes painting a place I'd like to visit. The descriptions of torch light parades and the lives of firemen are the sort of small historical details that make all of the difference. I also like oysters and lager beer.

I'd sincerely like to know what happened to Catawba Sparkling white wine made in Ohio. Mackay claims, and a little googling has confirmed, that consensus in the 1850s was that this was superior to the wines of the Mosel and possibly even to Champagne. What happened?

Also, people in the 1850s were apparently aware of the medieval warm period.

I would write more or find quotes but my three week old is stirring.

July 1, 2011 at 3:53 AM  
Blogger Joseph Ebbecke said...

I've got through some of the stuff you recommended; CF Adams on Lee, Bow of Ulysses, Cromer's essays. For some reason Sir Henry puts me off; I've given him a rest for now. About 2/3 through Cannibals All; just started Democracy and the Party System. Ostroski's work on the British party was recommended by Andreski in Social Sciences as Sorcery (BTW have you read this excellent work?) around 1973, wasnt aware he wrote on the US as well.

Froude was a bit of a disappointment as political philosophy because he doesnt argue his position, just keeps restating it after he made it obvious in the first chapter. As a period travelog it was wonderful; makes me want to visit St Lucia and Dominica and those falls in Trinidad. I had a college roomate from Trinidad, an astronomy student; he was white and a descendent of the planter families so some of them were still around as of the early '70's. Froude's attitude to the blacks didn't bother me nearly as much as his dismissal of Irish canaille; my Fenian blood was simmering. The man was 30 during the Great Hunger, for the love of God; a thousandfold worse case of irresonsibility on the part of the British Establishment than anything they did in the West Indies.

I found Cromer more satisfying. Perhaps simply because he was a practical man of affairs as well as an intellectual powerhouse. Always had a soft spot for the Barings anyway. I ended up reading every essay in the book and downloaded 3 volumes of the Greek Anthology

July 1, 2011 at 6:56 AM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

Cromer appears to have nailed down what the effects of Arab nationalism would be before it was ever visible as a political force. Impresive

July 1, 2011 at 7:01 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

@ Zimri - the "last two decades' attempts to discredit Redemption and rehabilitate Reconstruction" are largely the work product of Eric Foner, a "red-diaper baby" and unapologetic Marxist-Leninist.

What Foner, a Columbia University professor, has done is more or less to resurrect the claims of W.E.B. Du Bois's "Black Reconstruction in America" (1935). Du Bois was, not surprisingly, a Marxist and card-carrying Communist, who defended the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, arguing that the popular revolt there was the work of "landlords and fascists." He apparently viewed the invading Russians in the same heroic light he regarded Union forces occupying the defeated South.

Flash mobs and other recent manifestations of black criminality (e.g., the facts that 51% of murders in the U.S. are committed by blacks, and that there are over 30,000 rapes of white women by black men annually) make Tom Dixon's novelistic account of Black Reconstruction seem much more solidly based in fact than Foner's and Du Bois's Marxist propaganda. Unfortunately the latter is now the prevailing orthodoxy. Never has the academy been more devoted than it is today to persuading people to disbelieve their "lying eyes."

July 1, 2011 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

A dingalink from bhtv on para-intellectual government.

July 2, 2011 at 10:16 PM  
Anonymous elladeon said...


I can't check out your blog. And I've really been wanting to read someone else's opinion on flash mobs. (My own opinions are starting to disturb me.)

July 5, 2011 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger Zimri said...

Sorry. I locked my blog while I immersed myself in some anti-Redemption literature. That link is back.

I got introduced to the Dunning School as well. Re-introduced, I should say; the anti-Redemption books are anti-Dunning as well. So here is the conclusion of last weekend's liveblog.

On topic to this post, I got a sequel to Froude on Barbados.

I'm probably going to get fired :^(

July 5, 2011 at 6:28 PM  
Anonymous josh said...


have you read "notes on the situation" by benjamin hill? A primary source on reconstruction.

July 6, 2011 at 3:21 AM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

this article about the collapse of the USSR reminded me of UR, particularly the bits about how it's reformist regimes that get revolutioned, not their oppressive predecessors.

July 6, 2011 at 5:08 PM  
Blogger Zimri said...

Josh: At the time Moldbug posted on Benjamin Hill, I was still with LGF. I posted Nordhoff over there and survived. But even then, I knew couldn't get away with Hill. I am now, by the way, hated in LGF and in the exLGF community; I'd expect bannage from Ace of Spades too, but for that, Ace would have to ban pretty much the whole of Boulder County. So with me, you are in excellent company.

I have posted an application of Hill to Texas. That is all I can do.

July 6, 2011 at 7:44 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Russ Roberts had a podcast with Bruce Bueno de Mesquita on what caused the end of the USSR. He said it was a struggle for power between Gorbachev and Yeltsin. But if Gorbachev hadn't been a reformist, Yeltsin wouldn't have been capable of mounting such a challenge.

July 6, 2011 at 9:47 PM  

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