Although it is generally assumed that in a democracy the domestic policies of the government are shaped or at least influenced by public opinion, the same does not always hold true in matters of foreign policy. Frequently, the public shows a lack of interest in foreign affairs except when their lives as individuals are likely to be affected by their government’s foreign policy.
In this review and examination of what the American press and statesmen thought about Russia during the years 1971 to 1920, the author attempts to show, as events unfold, the results of opinion based on emotion rather than on reason. An introductory chapter deals with the contemporary American Weltanschauung, painting out its innocence and ignorance with respect to world affairs and Russia in particular. The author then chronicles events as they happened, covering in order the March Revolution, the Root Mission, the November Revolution, the Allied intervention, showing how American opinion, as reflected in leading American journals of the time and in statements of government officials, was influenced by information often misleading and sometimes obtained from unofficial sources. The body of the work shows the significant change from initial optimism through protest, to withdrawal into indifference and isolationism. Professor Strakhovsky concludes by pointing out what he believes to be the reasons for the confusion in public opinion and for the policies of the American government.
Designed primarily for the scholar and the student of American-Russian relations, the book should also be of great interest to the general reader. The parallel with world events since 1945 is clear.