Wholeness in Russian Thought, Culture, History, and Politics

(Europe Books, 2022)

Tselostnost COVERAmidst the conflict and strife that has plagued much of Russian history, the dream and pursuit of integrality and unity has persisted in Russian thought and culture. In theology, philosophy, arts, even the sciences, Russian thinkers and actors have believed in, aspired to, and urged the pursuit of tselostnost’ – an integrality or wholeness – in all being, existence, between the material and divine, for all mankind, all society, or all Russia. Gordon M. Hahn’s Russian Tselostnost’ tells the story of Russians’ spiritual, intellectual, artistic, scientific, social and political quest for the unity of Heaven and Earth, of God and humankind, of spirit and matter, of the peoples of the world, of society’s disparate groups and classes, and of Russia herself. Russian Tselostnost’ examines the Russian value of and aspiration to wholeness in Russian culture through articulations expressing tselostnost’ across nearly a millennium of Russian history in such areas as theology, philosophy, literature and the arts, science, historiography, and political, social, and economic sciences, ideologies and structures.



Security, Vigilance, and Relations with the West from Ivan III to Putin

(McFarland Books, 2021)

Russian Dilemma BOOK COVERThis study examines the origins and development of a specific strand in Russia’s political and strategic cultures — Russia’s ‘national security culture’ and ‘security vigilance norm’ – doing so in the context of Russian-Western relations. It is also a methodologically informed interpretation of Russian-Western relations’ impact on Russian history. Using aspects of identity, cultural, discourse, and constructivist theory as a foundation and framework, the work traces the formation of Russia’s security culture or vigilance norm within the context of Russia’s semi-European national identity and culture and its selection of Europe and the West as its ‘constituent Other.’ Its central hypothesis is that over the centuries Russia has become entangled in a vexing dilemma. On the one hand, Russia has aspired to be part of its Western ‘Other’ as a consequence of the latter’s growing influence on her own culture and identity. On the other hand, Russia learned to have profound trepidations for her security guided by a history of Western military and political intrusions into the homeland. The trepidation hypothesis proposes Russia’s security culture and its vigilance norms are both spontaneously developed and instrumentally constructed in response Western military invasions, interventions, political interference as well as to challenges to her domestic consensus, cohesion and stability. The Russian response to these threats and challenges led over the course of some four centuries to the development of three interrelated norms in Russia’s political and strategic security culture: vigilance against military threats, especially from the West; fear of internal division, dissent, and instability; and great trepidation regarding collusion between domestic and foreign, particularly Western actors.

The interaction between Western policies and behavior towards Russia and Russia’s consequent security culture and vigilance norm regarding potential Western-derived threats and challenges to the Russian traditions of consensus (versus competition), authoritarianism, and Orthodoxy tends to conflict with and confound Russia’s Western aspirations. This historical Russian dilemma with the West helps to explain both the intermittent ‘zigs and zags’ in Russian history and the vicissitudes in Russian-Western relations over the centuries defining four ‘relational cycles’ beginning from the 15th century. Each relational cycle includes the growth and decline of Russian-Western tensions, Western military invasion and/or political intervention in Russia’s domestic affairs, and the vigilance norm’s rise to dominance strain and declines into recessiveness in Russia’s political and strategic culture of security in relations to potential internal and external threats to Russian national security emanating from the West. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reign marks the beginning of a fifth relational cycle, in which the first phase, as has been the historical pattern, features post-conflict (Georgia and Ukraine) residual tensions with the West, the return to dominant position in the culture of the security norm of vigilance against Western threats, and a revival of traditionalism and authoritarianism.


Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West and the “New Cold War”

(McFarland Books, 2018)


The Ukrainian drama, which burst onto the headlines in autumn 2013, was one long and complex in its making. In contrast to other studies of the Ukrainian conflict, the present study examines in detail its historical background and complex causality—from the rise of the mass demonstrations on Kiev’s Maidan to the making of the post-revolt Maidan regime.

Two great schisms that shaped the Ukrainian crisis and their historical, cultural, and geopolitical causes are dissected. One schism lay within Ukraine itself with western and southeastern Ukraine divided by different historical, ethnic, linguistic, religious, ideological, socioeconomic, and ultimately political and international orientations. The other – at the international level – was driven by geopolitical factors, real and conjured or ‘imagined.’ Western-Russian competition for Ukraine – epitomized most by NATO and EU expansion to Russia’s very borders – exacerbated Ukraine’s internal divisions, setting the country aflame.

New light is shed on the role of radical Ukrainian nationalists and neofascists in the February 2014 snipers’ massacre, the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, and their less than democratic outcome as well as on Russia’s seizure of Crimea and involvement in Donbass’s civil war. Finally, the analysis puts the rise of the ‘new cold war’ in context.

Editorial Reviews

“It was not only Ukraine that went over the edge in 2014, but the whole European security system disintegrated, while a ’new cold war’ chills relations between the great powers. In this masterful study, Gordon Hahn examines how Ukraine’s internal divisions combined with external lines of fragmentation to create an explosive mix, which in turn intensified domestic conflicts. The result is an internationalised civil conflict, with catastrophic consequences for Ukraine and the world. Hahn is one of the few scholars with the knowledge and discernment to make sense of it all. His impressively well-researched and well-written book is essential reading.“–Richard Sakwa, University of Kent

“This impressively researched and strongly argued book is an essential corrective to the myths that have been generated concerning the crisis in Ukraine, and an essential warning against a continuation of the frivolous and dangerous policies of regime change adopted by the West after the end of the Cold War.”–Anatol Lieven, Professor, Georgetown University in Qatar and author of Ukraine and Russia, A Fraternal Rivalry.

Ukraine Over the Edge is a very useful contribution to understanding origins and key developments of the crisis in this important European and post-Soviet country. Gordon M. Hahn challenges simplistic and often misleading narratives by the media and politicians and provides a corroboration that the Maidan massacre was a false flag mass killing.”–Ivan Katchanovski, University of Ottawa.

“Ukraine Over the Edge is a rigorous analysis of the cultural, historical, and intellectual origins of the Ukrainian crisis. While stressing that blame for the latest phase of this crisis is shared all around, Hahn traces its domestic origins to the militancy of the opposition to president Yanukovych, and its international origins to NATO expansion, which he regards as militarized democracy-promotion. The result is both a sophisticated, multilevel analysis of how and why Ukraine emerged as the key hotspot in East-West relations, and an indispensable guide for those wishing to understand the origins of the New Cold War.”–Nicolai N. Petro, Silvia-Chandley Professor of Peace Studies and Nonviolence, University of Rhode Island.


The Caucasus Emirate:

Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond

(McFarland Books, 2014)

CE book cover

Editorial Reviews

      “Gordon Hahn has provided an outstanding analysis of the Islamist insurrection of the Caucasus, a conflict which reached out and took innocent lives in Boston, as well as in many Russian, Chechen and Dagestani cities and villages. His thorough scholarship sets a new benchmark in the study of religiously motivated terrorism in the former Soviet area.” —Ariel Cohen, Senior Research Fellow, The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies
      “In this important book, Hahn masterfully moves beyond arid structural explanations to explore the contingent historical, ideological and leadership factors that have made the Caucasus Emirate a major, if often under-recognized, node in the current global jihadist landscape.” —Dr. Gary Ackerman, Director, National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START)
      “Gordon Hahn lays out how groups and individuals from the Northern Caucasus and elsewhere in Russia have evolved and strengthened links with like-minded non-Russia-based terrorist networks around the world, including Syria. This is a security threat that directly affects the United States and its allies, and Gordon Hahn’s book is THE source to get up to speed on the topic.”–Andrew Kuchins, Director and Senior Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C.
       “In this important book, Hahn has thoroughly documented the extent to which the earlier ethno-nationalist conflict in Chechnya has been progressively “jihadized” ideologically and internationalized, a crucial transformation that has largely gone unrecognized.” —Jeffrey M. Bale, Ph.D., Senior Researcher, Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program
“This work represents a tremendous amount of impressive, diligent and difficult research which serves as testament to Hahn’s imposing knowledge of the subject. Indeed, Hahn’s command of the subject is beyond question. Furthermore the sheer volume of tables, facts and figures Hahn provides in support of his examination will no doubt make this book an invaluable research tool. One would have to look quite hard to find cause to criticise Hahn’s work and even then, those criticisms would be so minor as to almost not warrant mention…an illuminating and absorbing read…the must read book on the North Caucasus–Period”–


Russia’s Islamic Threat

Yale University Press, 2007
RIT Cover

Awarded ‘Outstanding Academic Title’ for 2007 by the Association of College and Research Libraries and the American Library Association in the CHOICE Current Reviews for Academic Libraries.

“This is a very important work, which will help to fill a major gap in Western scholarship about contemporary Russia. Given the very serious threat posed by Russia-based islamist terrorists not only to Russia but to the West as well, this gap is indeed not just serious but highly dangerous. Yet for a variety of reasons, very little work on this subject has appeared in English. Dr Hahn’s work on this subject entitles him to be regarded as one of the leading experts in the world not only on the islamist threat as such, but on the entire field of Russia’s Muslim-majority regions, their internal politics, and relations between them and the federal centre in Moscow. His book is an extremely useful, detailed guide to all these issues, and will I’m sure be described by many reviewers as indispensable to everyone working not only on Chechnya and the North Caucasus, but on contemporary Russian political and security issues in general. It is superbly researched, and full of insights and intelligent analysis.”—Anatol Lieven, author of Empire: The Russian Empire and Its Rivals

“Russia’s Islamic Threat is almost certain to become the definitive work on the subject. . . . The tale that Hahn tells is as substantial as it is striking.”—Leon Aron, New Republic

“Hahn provides a groundbreaking source book for everyone concerned with Islamic terrorism in Russia.”—Martin McCauley, Emeritus, University of London

“The work is meticulously researched. . . [It] not only fills a gaping hole in the Russian studies literature, it deftly ties the subject to the broader, and more important, issue of international security. A very important book.”—Matthew Crosston, Middle East Quarterly

“This is a gripping and important book, honest in its descriptions of both radical Muslims and Russians. Highly recommended.”—Choice

Russia’s Islamic Threat provides meticulously detailed research and analysis about Islamic separatism in Russia. . . . A must-read for any student of radical Islam in Russia/Central Asia. . . . Hahn’s book will be of great interest to anyone studying Putin’s impact on the development of democracy in Russia.”—Charles K. Bartles, Military Review
“His analysis directly challenges the currently dominant Western wisdom. . . . This is a rare and important book.”—Andrei P. Tsygankov, Russian Review
“Russia’s Islamic Threat” is not only a valuable addition to Russian studies, but also a landmanrk contribution to the broader literature on international terrorism and security studies from which all students of politics can and should benefit.”–Dilshod Achilov, The Journal of the Politics of Religion
‘Gordon Hahn’s book is a meticulously research analysis of the state of the Islamic entities within Russia and Russia’s sphere of influence, especially through the Caucasus.’  – Charles H. Middleburgh, Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues


Russia’s Revolution From Above:  

Reform, Transition, and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 

Transaction Publishers, 2002

RFA cover

“[This book] offers a detailed analysis of the politics of the Soviet Union’s collapse. He focuses on the struggle for power among the top leaders of the Communist Party apparatus, using archival materials, interviews, and press sources…  This is the best account yet available of the micropolitics of the USSR’s disintegration… Recommended for all research libraries, upper-division undergraduates and above.”—Peter Rutland, Choice

“Relying on a wealth of detailed institutional, policy, and elite information, Hahn presents a magisterial study that fills a significant void in our understanding of USSR’s destruction. While readers may at times feel overwhelmed…. readers are presented with a conceptual approach that can be useful for appreciating ongoing institutional changes and often subtle elite maneuverings in the post-Soviet era.”—John P. Willerton, University of Arizona

“This is a big book in all respects, weighty both in size and scholarship. The core is a meticulous analysis of the perestroika period of the Soviet Union (1985-91). Followed by a concluding general chapter that applies the earlier analysis to post-Communist Russia (1992-2000). The work is based on years of painstaking analysis, considerable archival research, and numerous interviews.”—The Russian Review

“This is an important book with a number of substantive strengths.”—Slavic Review

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