She played a remarkable historic role, by accident.
Her only son was a hemophiliac, and as she and her husband struggled with this wrenching disease, they wrote the best-selling book “Nicholas and Alexandra”, about the extraordinarily close relationship of the last Tsar and his German wife, as they they struggled with the same disease in the heir to the throne.
The Massies’ insights into their tragedy was one of the reasons the book glowed with authenticity.
For Russians, a visit from Massie is cause for celebration. Russian TV rolled out the red carpet. Click CC to turn on captions
Massie went on to write of her love for Russian culture in the best-selling “Land of the Firebird”, which remains one of the best books about Russian culture, and when Reagan decided to try to engage Gorbachev to end the cold war, he recruited her as his advisor on the human side of Russia.
Ever the politician, Reagan put laid great stake on the importance of him being able to build personal trust not only with Gorbachev, but also with the Russian people. Massie met with Reagan 20 times, often together with Nancy, and she coached them on the nuances of Russian culture and mentality, sharing her enthusiasm and love for Russia.
Russians see Massie as a heroine. Putin, whom she knows from his days as deputy mayor of St. Petersburg famously embraced and kissed her on Christmas Eve at the Christmas service at Christ the Savior Cathedral. Massie, a former episcopalian, converted to Russian orthodox Christianity.
“I’m the only woman in the world to have been kissed by both Ronald Reagan and Vladimir Putin” quips the 86 year old.
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