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In the fast new choreography of American compassion, explanation is tw

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Senior Manager
Joined: 05 Feb 2018
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In the fast new choreography of American compassion, explanation is tw  [#permalink]

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23 Oct 2018, 10:53
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In the fast new choreography of American compassion, explanation is twirled into excuse, and the spotlight‘s shine endows feelings with a prominence that facts could only hope for. Perception has become more important than reality. In homes, classrooms, and workplaces, we prefer to understand viewpoints rather than discern truths.

After recounting the prevalent view of Nicholas II, which faults the last czar for failure to recognize dire conditions of the day, neglect of astute advisors, and reliance instead on sources incompetent to influence state behaviour, Y. S. Bark, in Nicholas the Unlucky, concedes that Nicholas was a poor leader. However, Bark‘s main contention is that Nicholas II was a doomed figure who had the misfortune of presiding over, but not responsibility for significantly contributing to, the calamitous demise of Czarist Russia in 1917.

The product of an accomplished historian known for nice scholarship on inter-war diplomatic history, Bark‘s first foray into popular political biography proceeds with a deft review of the social, economic, and political conditions of Nicholas‘s day. In every respect but governance, Nicholas‘s Russia was, or was rapidly becoming, modern. Political alliances with Europe proper had existed for centuries, as had kinship with European art and literature. Developments in technology, communication, and transportation only increased the magnitude of Russia‘s European-ness.

After 1860, even Russian economic life began, however embryonically, to resemble Western forms. Only governance remained unchanged, yet it was governance that most needed transformation. Then begins a confused attempt to vindicate Nicholas: ―At the time, calls came for a compromise of czarism, yet it was in their tradition that the czars saw the sine qua non of Russian life. This was the impossible situation confronting Nicholas. Given these circumstances, it is implausible to suppose that Nicholas should have viewed the abandonment or even compromise of autocracy as Russia‘s salvific hope. To the contrary, turbulent times are perfect for redoubling the faith of ages; the first reaction to discomforting ideas is hatred. (The rest is detail—witness history‘s smile on stalwart Woodrow Wilson.)‖

Nicholas the Unlucky is ultimately unsatisfying because Nicholas is a poor choice for arguing historical inevitability and historical compassion. Worthwhile sources claim, not that Nicholas originated the causes of the revolution, but that at best he did nothing to alleviate them, and at worst he intensified them. Monarchists‘ astute, if reluctant, embrace of modernity in Prussia and Japan attests to how the demise of monarchy can be delayed. And while, like Nicholas, the Hohenzollerns of Austria- Hungary did not outlast World War I, they had faced the assault of modernity beginning much earlier, and probably would have fallen earlier, in 1848, had they behaved as Nicholas did.

To demonstrate Nicholas‘s unshakable faith in the czarist tradition, Bark devotes an entire section to Count Pobedonostsev, by whom Alexander III, Nicholas‘s father, was tutored in childhood and closely advised asCzar. A singular influence on Nicholas‘s own development, Pobedonostsev in his memoirs wrote of ―…Parliamentarism, which…has deluded much of the so-called ‗intelligence‘…although daily its falsehood is exposed more clearly to the world.‖ Grounded in the inalienable Russian truth that the czar was ―the Little Father, God‘s chief earthly agent and protector,‖ Nicholas‘s commitment to autocracy, in Bark‘s view, rendered major reform unthinkable.
1. As used in the end of the fourth paragraph in the statement: ―The rest is detail—witness history‘s smile on stalwart Woodrow Wilson,‖ the words ―The rest is detail‖ refer to:
A. Bark‘s belief that popular commitment to core values, even though the values are subjective, is essential to persevering through periods of national turmoil.
B. Bark‘s implication that policies advanced by Woodrow Wilson, though more successful than those of Nicholas, similarly reflected a strong commitment to traditional beliefs.
C. the author‘s contention that weighing the merits of alternative reform policies is less important than a ruler‘s overall commitment to reform.
D. the author‘s assumption that Woodrow Wilson‘s activist policies do not constitute a reasonable basis for comparison to Nicholas‘s conservative policies.
E. to illustrate that a particular policy of Woodrow Wilson was much more important than the rest

2. The author‘s discussion in the passage of the Hohenzollerns assumes which of the following?
A. In at least some significant ways, the political challenges faced by the rulers of Austria-Hungary around 1848 resemble those faced by Nicholas around 1917.
B. Like Nicholas, Hohenzollern rulers perceived themselves as having not only a historical, but also a divine, mandate.
C. For the purposes of historical analysis, modernity and European-ness can be treated as interchangeable terms.
D. Nicholas should have implemented the same policy reforms as those affected by rulers in Japan, Prussia, and Austria-Hungary.
E. There is no similarity between the Hohenzollems rulers and Nicholas

3. Which of the following, if true, would most challenge the author‘s assertion that ―the compassion craze has swept up biography?‖
A. Most readers regard as unflattering Bark‘s portrayal of Count Pobedonostsev in Nicholas the Unlucky.
B. For their subjects, many biographers choose figures who the biographers believe ought to be viewed in a forgiving and sympathetic light.
C. Nicholas genuinely believed that his attempt to preserve czarism was in the best interest of the Russian people.
D. Several decades ago, when Bark wrote Nicholas the Unlucky, she had very little exposure to American cultural values
E. Due to her cosmopolitan upbringing, Bark was well exposed to American
culture

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Senior Manager
Joined: 05 Feb 2018
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Location: India
Concentration: Finance
GPA: 2.77
WE: General Management (Other)
Re: In the fast new choreography of American compassion, explanation is tw  [#permalink]

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23 Oct 2018, 10:54

Topic and Scope

- Bark‘s overly compassionate biography of Nicholas II and the
importance of reality over perception.

Mapping the Passage

¶1 suggests that America focuses too much on compassion.
¶2 summarizes Bark‘s main argument: Nicholas was a victim of the Russian
Revolution, not responsible for it.
¶3 summarizes Bark‘s review of the ―social, economic, and political‖ conditions during
Nicholas‘ era.
¶4 quotes Bark, describing the quote as a ―confused and confusing attempt to
vindicate Nicholas.‖
¶5 asserts that the book is unsatisfying because Nicholas wasn‘t worthy of historical
compassion, and provides an argument to support this contention.
¶6 summarizes Bark‘s discussion of Count Pobedonostsev, who informed Nicholas'
unfortunate views.
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Senior Manager
Joined: 05 Feb 2018
Posts: 468
Location: India
Concentration: Finance
GPA: 2.77
WE: General Management (Other)
Re: In the fast new choreography of American compassion, explanation is tw  [#permalink]

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23 Oct 2018, 10:57

1)

Read the line in context. It‘s part of Bark‘s quote, which immediately knocks out (C) and (D). Bark is arguing that traditional approaches are best in difficult times: ―turbulent times are perfect for redoubling the faith of ages.‖ If Woodrow Wilson was ―stalwart‖ and history smiled on him, this must mean that Wilson was also committed to traditional ideas. Why does Bark say that ―the rest is detail‖? Predict: Possibly to argue that the difference between what Nicholas did and what Wilson did was minor. (B) paraphrases this in saying that they both followed a traditional approach.
(A): Distortion. Though Bark does believe that commitment to core values during troubled times is important, there‘s nothing in the quote to indicate that Bark believes the values are subjective.
(C): Out of Scope. Since the quote is Bark, Bark is making the point rather than the author.
(D): Out of Scope. As above.
(E): Out of Scope. As above.
2) Review the author‘s discussion of the Hohenzollerns in the passage. The author argues that the Hohenzollerns fell before World War I just like Nicholas did, but dealt earlier with modernism and would have fallen even faster ―had they behaved as Nicholas did.‖ What is the conclusion? That the Hohenzollerns dealt better with their problems than Nicholas. What is the evidence? Only what the author gives incomparing the two. What must a critical assumption be? Predict: The problems that Nicholas and the Hohenzollerns dealt with were comparable; if they weren‘t, the author‘s comparison is pointless. (A) paraphrases the prediction.
(B): Out of Scope. The author doesn‘t give any indication of what the Hohenzollerns thought about their mandate.
(C): Out of Scope. While the author may believe this, it‘s not an assumption critical to the comparison of the Hohenzollerns to Nicholas. Even if the author didn‘t believe this, the comparison could still hold up.
(D): Out of Scope. Though the author does believe that Nicholas should have modernized, there‘s no indication that he should have done so in the same way that the Hohenzollerns did. Tossing in other countries outside the scope of the comparison is a tip-off to the fact that this choice is out of scope.
(E): Opposite, as described above.

3)

What would challenge the author‘s contention in ¶1 that America‘s ―compassion craze‖ is intruding into biography? Predict: Something that shows that America‘s obsession with compassion and biographies aren‘t as closely linked as the author says they are. (D) gives us just this: if Bark hadn‘t been exposed to American culture when writing the biography, it makes no sense to say that her book is an example of biography being swept up by the American compassion craze.
(A): Out of Scope. The author argues that Bark is overly compassionate towards Nicholas; her treatment of the Count has no impact on this argument.
(B): Out of Scope. Even if this is true, it could still be that most biographers do this because they‘ve been swept up in the compassion craze.
(C): Out of Scope. What Nicholas did is outside the scope: the author is concerned with whether or not the biography is overly compassionate towards Nicholas.
(E): Opposite, as described above.
Strategy Point:
When asked to weaken a chain of cause and effect, keep an eye out for alternate
explanations for the effect

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Re: In the fast new choreography of American compassion, explanation is tw   [#permalink] 23 Oct 2018, 10:57
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