Many Americans that grew to maturity during the Cold War were conditioned to think of Russia as an implacable and eternal enemy. Few expected to see the collapse of the Communist system and the way opened for missionary labor in a such a short space of time. However, after interviewing a number of the early missionaries to Russia, I am impressed that many of them had nurtured a desire to serve there even when the chances of doing so were still remote. Even now, Russia seems to possess a mystique for Americans unlike any other country in the world. It is thus very satisfying that a chronicle of the first mission president in Russia should be published so soon after the unfolding of what, in future years, may well be ranked among the historic epics of the restored Church.
A professor of Russian language and literature at BYU for two decades and a lifelong observer of Russian life, Gary Browning was prepared to understand and work with Russians as well as anyone in the Church. Russia and the Restored Gospel is a careful and detailed account of the Browning’s mission experience, providing a balanced picture of the first mission in Russia that includes the embarrassing as well as the satisfying, the failures as well as the successes. This volume is not a glossy paean to unimpeded progress but a reflective and sober account of someone who loves Russia in spite of the difficulties encountered there.