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May 15

Trust but Verify: Reagan, Russia and Me

In Trust but Verify, Suzanne Massie shares her interactions with President Reagan during the days that were to transform America’s relationship with its most dangerous adversary. She was to become “Reagan’s window on the Soviet Union” at a critical time in his efforts to reduce, if not end, the threat of nuclear weapons. The President called and wrote to her often and invited her back to the White House sixteen times to help him better understand the Russian spirit that lay behind the mask of Communist power. It was she who introduced the President to the now famous Russian proverb – “doveryai no proveryai” (trust, but verify) – that became his signature phrase when addressing U.S. and Soviet Union relations. 

Suzanne Massie has been involved in the study of the Soviet Union/Russia for nearly four decades. In Russia, she has been the subject of a documentary film, the winner of a prestigious literary prize, and an active participant in the cultural and social concerns of the city of St. Petersburg. Her book, Land of the Firebird: The Beauty of Old Russia, received major recognition in both countries, and she has worked on cultural exchange exhibits at the foremost American and Russian art museums. 

A fellow of the Harvard Russian Research Center (now the Davis Center) from 1985-97, she has also served on the Board of the International League for Human Rights. In 1991 she was appointed as the only lay member of the Permanent Episcopal-Orthodox Coordinating Committee which has involved bi-annual discussions in Russia and the United States with hierarchs of the church, including Patriarch Aleksy II, giving her a unique perspective on the life and role of the Orthodox Church in Russia today as well.

More About the Speakers

Suzanne Massie

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John Edward Hilboldt John Edward Hilboldt

Director, Lectures & Seminars Read More