Read and Think Russian

Culmen International is proud to present
Dr. Basil Bessonoff's Russian language
and cultural immersion textbook.

Read and Think Russian is an intermediate level textbook primarily targeted at improving students’ reading comprehension skills in the Russian language, however the course is intended for all students seeking to reach an advanced level of Russian in all modalities (speaking, reading, writing, and listening) according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) scale. This book is designed to bridge the gap between language teaching methodologies used in Russia and English-speaking countries, thus facilitating the preparation for study and work abroad. It is suited for use in higher-level undergraduate courses, graduate courses and continuing education for those professionally or academically involved in Eurasian studies.

Consisting of five chapters, Book I contains authentic, contemporary reading segments full of practical knowledge about Russia and its international relations, politics, economics, and military. Each chapter includes helpful graphics as well as concise vocabulary to assist the student in determining the main ideas, while also presenting grammatical reminders, translation exercises, and questions to facilitate topical discussions.

Read And Think Russian Cover

Please use the logon information
provided in the book to access the files.

At the conclusion of Book I (Book II is forthcoming), students are expected to have progressed to the advanced-low level based on the ACTFL scale.

January 10, 2018

Read and Think Russian is a reader for the intermediate-level students of Russian who wish to reach an advanced level of proficiency. It consists of an array of relatively short texts thematically arranged into five chapters – General information about Russia, International relations between Russia and other countries, Political live in modern Russia, and Russian military affairs – 4-5 texts in each chapter. The texts are thoroughly glossed, supplied with instructive illustrations, maps, diagrams, and brief grammar explanations of various relevant lexical and idiomatic points; they are also followed by extensive vocabulary in the alphabetical order, a series of comprehension questions intended to facilitate topical discussions in the language, translation practice exercises, as well as audio files on the companion website.

Read and Think Russian is much more than a reader: it targets language proficiency comprehensively and systematically in all linguistic forms – reading, speaking, oral comprehension, listening, pronunciation, translation, and writing. The book is thoughtfully designed to improve the students’ understanding of the area and develop their critical thinking in the Russian language. It can be used as a supplement material or as a main textbook, according to the specific academic circumstances, for all who are professionally or academically involved in Eurasian studies.

The book is particularly invaluable to training professionals who count on using the Russian language in the areas of international relations, politics, economics, and military affairs. This is so, not only because it covers these fields thematically, but also because it gradually builds a practical vocabulary and pertinent terminology on the level of phrase and sentence and enables students to communicate in these topics with relative ease and cultural authenticity.

All texts in the Reader are selected from various reputable contemporary sources such as BBC Russian World Service, Argumenty i Facty, Izvestia, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Snob, and others. Considered together, the texts reveal their linguistic and thematic continuity as one text further develops its antecedents; they also engage the students with the variety and breadth of the covered topics. Dr. Bessonoff took special care to present his materials on Russia in the politically neutral modality, even though he did not shy away from important contemporary issues. In such questions as the relations of Russia and Iran, Russia and Syria, Russia and China, he chose the texts that provide students with objective historical perspectives that are not susceptible to the changeable attitudes of the day. Consequently, the Reader in its current form will not be outdated in the near future and will continue to supply students with adequate information and practical idiom.

Most important, Read and Think Russian successfully combines the language pedagogy prevalent in English-speaking countries, which focuses on commonly problematic areas and promotes oral and written expression in the target language, with the methodology of analytical reading wide-spread in Russian academia. Therefore, it is certain to facilitate the academic and cultural transition for those students of Russian who intend to continue their study of the language in Russia and other Russian-speaking environments abroad.

Sincerely yours,
Constantine Muravnik, Ph.D.
Senior Lector II in Russian
Slavic Languages and Literatures
Yale University


At a time when the anti-Russia rhetoric heard in political, government or media circles is too often matched by lack of knowledge and even a basic understanding of Russia and the Russians, it falls to a grammar text of all things, to teach communication while itself communicating objective, factual information. Read and Think Russian attacks the U.S. national deficit in foreign languages with proven, linguistically sound methods and uses instructional materials dealing with issues of contemporary, even controversial interest. An initial descriptive chapter sets the framework for subsequent, systematic presentations of grammar and vocabulary through texts and exercises on Russia’s position in the international sphere (Russia and the West, Russia and China), Russian politics, Russia’s economy and Russia’s military stance. These subject areas are precisely the ones that many laymen would like to ask Russian acquaintances about, and that diplomats or congressional investigators often address in policy discussions

In each chapter, non-judgmental articles address contemporary Russian events, Russian social or economic phenomena, governmental institutions and actions and the now-independent states of the former Soviet Union, before diving into more topical material, for example the Russian view of Putin, the takeover of the Crimean Peninsula, the wars in eastern Ukraine and Syria. Distinct from the systematic integration of grammar and vocabulary for the intermediate student, are the subject-relevant statistical tables and charts, and facts, figures and dated events that follow the texts. They provide fascinating and timely information, while leaving any value judgments to the language learners. A second Volume for intermediate-level Russian language study is forthcoming, and combines grammar and vocabulary instruction with the more usual subjects of Russian culture, arts and literature.

It is conclusive that the success of Read and Think Russian is in large part due to its gifted, highly educated author. Dr. Basil Bessonoff counts decades of lively and productive engagement with students from multiple disciplines, careers and levels of education, age and sophistication. He has become a master at leading them individually and in groups across the bridge between two languages and into a world of communication backed by true knowledge and a sympathy for what is human in us all.

Judith Robinson
Eurasia Expert
Former USAID Russia, Moldova, and Belarus Senior Desk Officer, and Author

Judith Robinson counts six decades of involvement with the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation, traveling there as a student, working there as a guide-interpreter for two year-long U.S. official exhibits, and organizing and accompanying industry exhibitions and traveling technical seminars in Russia and throughout Eastern Europe. She taught American university students Russian, their parents Russian history and culture, and wrote the text and delivered a Russian course in Spanish to Argentine faculty of the Universidad de Cordoba, Argentina. She served two U.S. government agencies as Business Consultant on U.S.-Russian trade and as long-time Russia Desk Officer, and her three-volume opus on Russians and their national horses, the Orlov Trotter, has just been published

Read and Think Russian
Sample Table of Contents:

Chapter One—General Information About Russia
Глава 1: Общая информация о России
  • Тема 1: Население
    • Лексика и грамматика
      • Ехpressions related to Russian Nationality and Citizenship
    • Вопросы к теме
  • Тема 2: Территория
    • Лексика и грамматика
      • Genitive after numerals
    • Вопросы к теме
  • Тема 3: Климат
    • Лексика и грамматика
      • Temperature-related words
    • Вопросы к теме
  • Тема 4: Государственное устройство Р.Ф.
    • Лексика и грамматика
      • Imperfective gerunds
      • The use of «Который»
      • Date-related expressions
    • Вопросы к теме
  • Express it in Russian
  • Chapter 1 Topical Vocabulary

Read and Think Russian is the concept and work of Basil Bessonoff, a Russian instructor of adult learners for more than 35 years, the co-author of the U.S. edition of the Road to Russia textbook for beginners, and a fellow of the Charted Institute of Linguists (United Kingdom).

This textbook is designed to bridge the gap between the language instruction methodology used in English-speaking countries and those found in Russian schools and colleges, known as “analytical reading.” This book consists of detailed, contemporary passages on a variety of practical topics, such as Russia’s international relations, Russia’s military, and Russia’s economics, facilitating the transition to work and study abroad.

Chapter 1 is provided as a sampling of the material found in Read and Think Russian.

  • Basil Bessonoff
  • Culmen International, LLC
Project Manager:
  • Culmen International, LLC
Copy Editor:
  • Culmen International, LLC
Contributing Editors:
  • Jerry Davidov, Independent Scholar
  • Christopher Golden, Independent Scholar
  • Eric Jacobson, Columbia University
  • Mary Kathryn Howerton, Independent Scholar
  • Kevin Lutes, University of Maryland
  • Clay Moore, Independent Scholar
  • Aaron Rose, American University
Cover and Layout Design:
  • Sarah McPhee
Audio Supplement:
  • Olga Berezhina
  • Basil Bessonoff
  • Parker O’Shell

Please contact us at with any questions!

© Basil Bessonoff and Culmen International, 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owners.

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