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My Russia: War or Peace?


Originally written in German

Full English translation available

35,000 copies sold in Finland (WSOY)

A unique insight into a foreign mysterious country nearby. Is there a reason to fear Moscow? Could Russia have any reason to distrust the West? How are the tensions between the East and the West fuelled? And could they be solved?

The award–winning writer Mikhail Shishkin shares his understanding of Russia and the West and the contrasts and tensions that have been exacerbated for several years. With his deep knowledge of Russia explores how the developments after the era of relaxation and a supposed end of the East–West confrontation could come to the tense current situation. Shishkin’s love for Russia is uncompromised, yet he sharply criticizes Putin's authoritarian rule and the politics of the Kremlin. Personal insights, sharp political analyses, historical overviews make it a crucially important book in difficult times.

From the author: “This book is a collection of essays about Russia, written specifically for the western reader. Having lived in Europe for so many years helped me recognize the general misconceptions about Russia and Russians that western people often nourish. This book is for the reader who refuses to accept clichés and platitudes as ultimate truth.

This book answers some of the most important “Russian questions”. Why do 21st century westerners travelling the world write about my country as if it were another planet? What is wrong with my country, and why? What is this whole notion of “Russianness”? Why do revolutions and attempts at democratic reforms only lead to new dictatorships? Why can’t the West and Russia reach understanding, after centuries and centuries of war and peace? What does it mean to love Russia? Can one still believe in Russia, as Tyutchev once bequeathed?

The essays are devoted to such eternal topics as “the mystery of the Russian soul” (here is a spoiler: there is no mystery, only the lack of knowledge that adds to a mysterious glare); patriotism and tyranny; “Live not by lie” (but neither by the truth); “Neither the church nor the tavern”; “Russian universality” and hybrid wars; writers and power, and many others.

The future is a glove, and the past is a hand. This is a book about the future of Russia. Therefore, it has a lot of history. I explain to the Western reader its underwater, deep currents, invisible from the outside, but determining its course. Without this, the present of my country cannot be understood. The last two chapters are devoted to what awaits us in the coming years and in the not so distant future.”

Pleitgen and Shishkin, both sharing a deep knowledge of Russia, duel in a pointed exchange of views of both internal and external sides of things.

– Kölner Stadtanzeiger

The long– time ARD reporter in Russia and USA and a Russian writer who won every important literary award in Russia, search together for possible ways of handling relations between the West and the East.


The mysterious Russia: in his book, Mikhail Shishkin explains the nation that the West fails to understand.

L’Union Sarda

From as back as the 19th century the West have considered tsarist Russia as a “prison of people”. In his emotionally charged book, Mikhail Shishkin, revisits this concept and discuss it from the actual modern angle.

La Repubblica

Book details

Random House, 2019

Essays, German language

384 pp

Rights sold

  • World English Quercus Books

  • Italian 21 Lettere

  • Spanish Impedimenta

  • French Noir sur Blanc

  • Spanish Armaenia

  • Polish Noir sur Blanc

  • Lithuanian Vaga

  • Swedish Fri Tanke

  • Finnish WSOY

  • Norwegian Cappelen Damm

  • Estonian SA Kultuurileht

  • Romanian Curtea Veche

  • Slovakian Slovart

  • Croatian Tim Press

  • Japanese Hakusuisha

  • Dutch Querido

Literary awards

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