Suzanne Massie is the freelance American friend of Russia, Russian people, and Russian culture. I call her the woman who ended the Cold War, because of the almost unimaginable persuasive power that she brought to bear on Ronald Reagan, now 30 years ago. She’s just published her memoir, Trust But Verify: Reagan, Russia and Me. “Trust but verify” is the old Russian motto that Suzanne Massie taught to Ronald Reagan, which he kept repeating to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last chief of the Soviet Union, when those two leaders conspired to call off the conflict and get rid of their nuclear stockpiles, almost.
It was Suzanne Massie who gave me my first unforgettable walking tour of St. Petersburg — of the Hermitage, the Royal Palaces, Pavlovsk, Dostoevsky’s house and grave, the Italianate churches — in 1992. It was all part of my assignment to write an account for The Atlantic of her extraordinary service to Ronald Reagan and all of us. I thought the title of The Atlantic piece in February, 1993 should have been “The Woman Who Ended the Cold War.” Here it is, under the headline “Agent of Influence“.