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I have been working on this book since leaving Russia in April of 1972. It was my wish to write this book in English, and there were what seemed to me to be serious reasons for doing so. In recent years there has appeared a wealth of literature, in Russian, about Russia. As a rule, this literature has been published outside the USSR by authors who still live in the Soviet Union or who have only recently left it. A fair amount of important literature is being translated into English, but I believe it will be read main- ly by specialists in Russian studies, or by those who have a great interest in the subject already. The majority of Russian authors write, of course, for the Russian reader or for an imagined Western public. It is my feeling that Russian authors have serious difficulties in understanding the men- tality of Westerners, and that there still exists a gap between the visions of Russians and n-Russians. I have made my humble attempt to bridge ~his gap and I will be happy if I am even partly successful. The Russian world is indeed fascinating. Many people who visit Russia for a few days or weeks find it a country full of historical charm, fantastic architecture and infinite mystery. For many inside the country, especial- ly for those in conflict with the Soviet authorities.