That may seem like my own brand of Russian triumphalism, but it’s more complicated than that. Russia, throughout its history, has gone through different phases of the “Russian idea.” Sometimes Russians isolated themselves, sometimes they tried to fit in with everyone else. But always, Russians have seen themselves as the bearers of a special historical calling, whatever that may be.
A reader of my first attempt at writing a novel noticed that I seemed to be obsessed with the idea of American exceptionalism. He was only partially right. I am, however, a fan of Russian exceptionalism. Now, before you dismiss that outright, it might be useful to consider the history of that strange, elusive idea known as “Holy Russia.”