Click Here To Purchase Walking on Ice: An American Businessman in Russia

Author: Frederick R. Andresen

ISBN: 10: 1432713523: ISBN: 13: 978-1432713522


We always hear that you can’t judge a book by its cover.  Well, in this case Frederick Andresen’s Walking on Ice: An American Businessman in Russia is no exception to the rule.

Lately I have been getting lots of books that seem to be about subjects that aren’t very related to their titles.  When I first picked up Walking on Ice I expected to read much about the business climate in Russia and the economic changes that the country has been undergoing since the fall of communism in 1989.  In fact, Frederick Andresen spends the majority of the book describing his love affair with the people and culture of Russia.  Yes, Andresen does talk about having a successful business there and how he started with basically nothing and through the years built not one but two solid companies in the telecommunications industry, but most of what the author had to say about business in the country was anecdotal.  He did relate vignettes and stories about his business dealings but most of the time he shared in the frustrations and delights of working in this strange and wonderful culture he found himself immersed in.  Frederick Andresen jumped into the country feet first soaking up the music, the history the literature and making the Russian people his new second family.

Before I will go too much further in the review though I would like to talk about one of the things that I found as a weakness in the book’s structure.  For the first two thirds of the book Andresen has constructed a marvelous prose that is incredibly interesting.  Especially to those of us who would also immerse ourselves in a place so different.  But near the end of the book he adds many essays that he has written over the years and unfortunately although these essays are very well written, much of the material is repeated from the first part of the book and I found that to be a bit of a drag.  I was enjoying the novelty being portrayed in the work so much that when I got to the re-hashed sections a felt a little betrayed.  I didn’t like the feeling of repetition.

That having been said, there was much more that was right with this book than what was wrong with this book.  Frederick Andresen’s immersion was well worth reading about.  He describes how as a young lad in Texas he grew to love Russian music as his sister studied Russian literature in her university.  But the author did not really come to Russia until much later in life.  He went to university then went on for graduate training in international business at the American Graduate School for International Management, affectionately known as “Thunderbird”.  Frederick Andresen then went on to have a long and successful business career working in many parts of the globe.  Yet when other people of his generation would have been winding their down their careers Frederick Andresen was starting over in an entirely new field of telecoms and in an entirely new country, post-Soviet Russia. 

From the pages of his book you see that Andresen was a very astute and observant man who melded into the life of his newly adopted home.  I especially appreciated his holistic style of examining Russia.  He described this country through his personal relationships with the Russian people, through their orthodox church, through their language and through their literature, which I myself have been a fan of for decades.  And especially vivid in my mind was the author’s description of the two or three day civil war that Boris Yeltsin waged with the old guard who wanted to turn back the clock on the country.  The author had an excellent view.  Not only was his office building next to the fighting, but some of Yeltsin’s supporters commandeered his office building with weapons and fought from there!

And I thought this book was going to be a businessman’s treatise on how to do business in Russia.  You see, they do teach more than just business administration at Thunderbird!

And on a separate but related note, after I finished this book I went out to the video store and bought Dr. Zhivago…  I watched it that very night.

Click Here To Purchase Walking on Ice: An American Businessman in Russia