RUSSIA
I am in awe of what I DON'T know...

I've read every book there is about Russia, including a couple of novels in Russian. I can speak passable Russian, and, after studying it in college, I spent a solid year in total language immersion with Russian refugees, some of whom had left there during the Revolution. I know the country's geography, and I know the history, ancient and especially modern since I was deeply affected by the Cold War. My military service was spent as a Russian language translator and cryptanalyst for the NSA. I can name any piece of Russian classical music on hearing it and can play some on the piano. I have traveled solo for weeks in Russia and Ukraine after the Soviet Union collapsed, relying on my knowledge of the country and my language skills. I've worshipped in the Orthodox church in Russia, and I wrote a historical novel about the origins of the church there in the ninth century.

And yet, I still feel as though I know hardly a thing about Russia.

David A. Woodbury

2010
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