Truscott, Peter 1959-
TRUSCOTT, Peter 1959-
Male. Born March 20, 1959, in Newton Abbot, Devonshire, England; son of Derek and Dorothy Truscott; married Svetlana Chernicova, 1991. Education: Exeter College, Oxford, B.A. (history), 1981; M.A., 1985; D.Phil., 1986. Politics: Labour Party. Hobbies and other interests: Walking, music, country dancing, swimming, leafletting.
Home—Artillery Mansions #31, 75 Victoria St., London SW1H 0HZ, England.
Political analyst. Labour Party organizer, 1986-89; Colchester Borough Council, councillor, 1988-92; National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, member, 1989-94; European Parliament, member representing Hertfordshire, 1994-99; has held positions in trade union and labour movements.
Transport and General Workers' Union, Co-operative Party.
Russia First: Breaking with the West, I. B. Tauris (New York, NY), 1997.
Kursk: Russia's Lost Pride, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
Putin's Progress, Simon & Schuster UK (London, England), 2004.
A former member of the European Parliament from England, political analyst Peter Truscott has written two books involving Russian politics. Russia First: Breaking with the West shows Russia taking a nationalistic rather than westernized approach to political reform. Kursk: Russia's Lost Pride looks at Russian bureaucratic culture and the highly criticized reaction of Russian president Vladimir Putin following the sinking of the submarine Kursk in August of 2000.
In Russia First, Truscott provides commentary on contemporary political developments as well as an overview of Russian history from the Mongol invasion to the eras of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, and on through 1993. He asserts that with the onset of the post-communist period a nationalistic, "Russia First" emphasis supplanted the creation of a Western-style democracy, this emphasis supported by both the general public and the political elite.
Truscott's book elicited a variety of responses, but repeatedly was commended for the broad background it provides. Choice's D. V. Schwartz commented that Truscott's presentation is bolstered by "reliance on a wide range of academic and media sources, as well as firsthand contacts." In the Russian Review Edwin Bacon noted that Truscott has a solid thesis, but one "insufficiently developed" as the basis for a book-length work. Bacon found that many of the chapters provide a valuable refresher course on Russian history, and that overall the work is "designed more for the policy community than the academic." Judith Smelser wrote in Demokratizatsiya that the author's "thesis is startling … because it argues that the adoption of 'Russia First' marks the end of the age-old Slavophile Westernizer cycle," but she was not totally persuaded by his presentation of "Russia First" as "an entirely new paradigm." However, Smelser found Truscott's survey of recent events "highly readable and informative." In a review for Europe-Asia Studies Charles E. Zeigler called the main argument "both true and rather trite," but credited Russia First with giving "a solid and often nuanced description of current political, economic and foreign policy events in Russia."
The rather murky waters of the Russian government's response to the catastrophe on the submarine Kursk, which killed all 118 men on board, is explored by Truscott in Kursk. Released two years after the accident and before the official Russian report, the book sorts through the possible causes of the ship's sinking and seeks to explain the cool, detached manner in which President Putin responded to the event. Rejecting theories that two submarines collided, Truscott explains how problems with a practice torpedo killed most of the men on board, and that twenty-two men lived some twelve hours longer. He also discusses how Putin distanced himself politically and emotionally from the accident, in a style consistent with previous Russian administrations in times of crisis.
In a review that also covered A Time to Die: The Kursk Disaster by Robert Moore, Guardian critic Amelia Gentleman noted that disparities between the books showed how much remained to be proved after two years of investigation into the Kursk incident. She felt that Truscott validates Russian worries about spying by those who offered assistance in the rescue and remarked that he "devotes his book to a cool analysis of the political fallout, providing a detailed portrait of Putin's Russia." In the Times Literary Supplement Iain Elliot noted that the later official report backed up Truscott's "scornful dismissal" of those who believed that the Kursk had hit a foreign submarine. Calling Kursk "an accessible book," Elliott commented that Truscott is "rightly critical" of Putin's role in the failed attempt to rescue the sailors.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, March, 1998, D. V. Schwartz, review of Russia First: Breaking with the West, p. 1269.
Demokratizatsiya, fall, 1999, Judith Smelser, review of Russia First, p. 613.
Europe-Asia Studies, June, 1998, Charles E. Zeigler, review of Russia First, p. 713.
Guardian, August 24, 2002, Amelia Gentleman, review of Kursk: Russia's Lost Pride.
Russian Review, January, 1999, Edwin Bacon, review of Russia First, pp. 171-172.
Times Literary Supplement, October 18, 2002, Iain Elliot, review of Kursk, p. 35.