We’re back in the 19th century

An interview with Charles King, professor of international affairs and government at Georgetown University. Interviewer: Aleksander Kaczorowski

ALEKSANDER KACZOROWSKI: You have written some excellent books on the Black Sea, Caucasus, Istanbul and Odesa. How did you first get involved in Eastern European issues?

CHARLES KING: Where I grew up, if you wanted to be strange at that time, the best way was by being interested in communism. I grew up in a rather conservative part of the United States, in the south, in Arkansas. During the Cold War in the 1980s this part of the world might as well have been on another planet, at least to the society that I grew up in. And I think I was always fascinated by the idea that people who live as far away as Europe or even in the Soviet Union must be real people, need not have two heads...

You know, “the Russians love their children too”?

You mention this song, of course it was a silly pop song, but in a way I think to the 15-year-old me that was a bit of a revelation: “Oh yes, I guess they must”. So then I just became fascinated by the communist world, as we used to call it, and my first time out of the United States was to the Soviet Union. I had never left the US before. I got my passport, they sent it to you through your post office back then, and headed to my Russian classes in Leningrad and Moscow.

July 14, 2017 - Charles King