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1. A Concise History of the Russian
2. History of the Russian Revolution
3. Russia and the Russians: A History
4. The Cambridge History of Russian
5. Advanced Russian Through History
6. The Russians in Germany: A History
7. The Icon and the Axe : An Interpretive
8. Reinterpreting Russian History:
9. A History of Russian Literature
10. The Routledge Atlas of Russian
11. An Atlas of Russian History: Eleven
12. The Russian Century: A History
13. Russian Intellectual History:
14. The Russian Civil War 1918-22
15. A History of Russian Architecture
16. A History of Russian Music: Being
17. A History of Russian Thought from
18. The Russian Moment in World History
19. Magical Chorus: A History of Russian
20. The Routledge Atlas of Russian

1. A Concise History of the Russian Revolution
by Richard Pipes
Paperback: 464 Pages (1996-11-26)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$7.68
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679745440
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The author of the classic two-volume study, The Russian Revolution and Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, now distills those works into an authoritative new chronicle of Russia between 1900 and the death of Lenin. "A deep and eloquent condemnation."--The New York Times. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (27)

1-0 out of 5 stars Intellectual intolerance
Richard Pipes has published many studies of revolutionary Russia. This latest "concise" volume serves to confirm the views he has previously expressed, including a long list of things that anger him (indeed, he quotes Aristotle: "Those who are not angry at those things they should be angry at are deemed fools.") Pipes' list includes: the Englightenment; intellectuals (in general), Russians (in general), Russian intellectuals (in particular), Bolsheviks, Lenin, etc. He argues that the revolutions of 1917 had little to do with political oppression or social conditions (causes the vast majority of Russian historians acknowledge). Rather Pipes argues that the revolutions resulted directly from the intransigence of the intelligentsia, who believed that every problem - no matter how trivial - reflected the need to overthrow the entire political/social order. Indeed, he argues that ALL rebellions are conservative in nature (based on people looking to restore traditional rights), but that middle-class intellectuals turn rebellions into revolutions by ignoring the desires of the masses and instead insisting on changing the entire social/political structure without securing a popular mandate. They do this, he insists, because they are imbued with the "erroneous doctrine of the Enlightenment" that man is a product of his social environment, which can be altered to produce a "new man." The demise of the USSR in 1991 should "be interpreted as conclusive proof that utopianism inevitably leads to its very opposite." All of this makes for a provocative polemic, but certainly does not qualify as a careful, balanced, nuanced history of the Russian revolutions. Pipes characterizes the Russian intelligentsia as having been intellectually intolerant of those who didn't agree with them; this book reveals that Pipes is equally guilty of his own accusation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Russian Revolution Without the Sugarcoating
This work thoroughly documents the Russian Revolutions, which serve as a crucial case study on the importance of ideas in shaping history. Why did the Russian history descend into so much chaos?

The author is a professor at Harvard, an eminent historian and a noted conservative who has written extensively on Communism in history. There is no better author for a book of this importance.

The historical content of this book is fantastic. It is greatly detailed but appropriate for an armchair intellectual who is picking up his first book on the Russian Revolution. In this book, you will learn about Russia under Tsar Alexander II, the February Revolution of 1917, which replaced Alexander with a provisional government and the October Revolution later that year, which is more commonly known as the Bolshevik Revolution. Although there is plenty of material on the former two periods, this last revolution is the main focus of the book. Here, you will learn about many of the grim realities of what transpired during this time, including roaming gangs of state-appointed foragers who were ordered to secure "surpluses" but in reality just plunder property. In addition to Lenin's efforts to eradicate the concept of private property, You will also learn about Lenin's futile attempt to eliminate money as a medium of exchange, which actually just lead to an enormous black market for underground commerce. Finally, you will learn about all of the various opposing political factions, including the Bolsheviks, the Mensheviks, the White Russians, the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the other independent groups who were of lesser importance.

Amongst many other key points, Richard Pipes will argue the following:
* Lenin, in terms of essentials, was just as tyrannical as Stalin.
* Although Alexander was despotic, Lenin and Trotsky were clearly worse than Alexander in terms of brutally oppressing the general public and suppressing political opposition.
* The Bolsheviks not only destroyed the lives of many aristocrats but also ultimately made everyone (including workers) worse off as well.
* The White Russians, irrationally blaming Jews for Bolshevism, were heavily responsible for the devastating pogroms that took place during this tumultuous time.

The author's bias against Marxist-Leninism is quite clear throughout the book. However, Pipes is not a fan of their opposition either. Nevertheless, I think this bias enhances the book because these groups, in reality, did not fight for admirable ideals and should be judged accordingly.

This is an excellent book overall. If I were to offer criticism, it would be that the author could have further explored the influence of Chernyshevsky's work "What is to be done?" on Lenin, which seems key to understanding Lenin's philosophy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Never Ending Revolution
To read this book you have to understand what was happening around the world at that time and if you did not, well this book will put you in the right state of mind. The Russian Revolution, the single event that changed world history is well chronicled here by the excellent author Richard Pipes. The author is inspired and writes the great history of the events, that lead to this event.

This book is not hard to read as it fallows a good order and explains all of the people involved in the events. A pitful Bolshevik party, who no one took seriouslyeven as they took over the goverment. People thought they would also be expedited soon by another goverment but it was not so. As Lenin, who is described well in this book put to work his new system of taking over, treating politics as War. Using that doctrine he cunningly destroyed the opposition and won Russia for himself and the party.

For those of us who do not understand what the "paradise on Earth" really was, Pipes explains it all to us and how it failed. The people who this system wanted to represent did not even want the system, in fact no one really wanted it they just wanted an end to the Tsar and the war which Lenin gave but no one thought ahead. Witness the tragedy that was the revolution and how intellectuals given the drive and power can turn a society into terror. If you are interested on reading more on Comminism, also read by the author his review on that subject on the World Chronicles books.

5-0 out of 5 stars A "must read" for anyone living in the Modern Age
There are boring books about history, but there is no boring history, according to Richard Pipes.I understand him to believe that what happens matters; that life is significant. (Something many modern historians seem none too sure about.) History carries meaning and its dynamism affects us in the present and on the other side of the world. With this level of respect and sensitivity he approaches his subject. And so this book--albeit of a difficult subject matter--is a pleasure to read.

Pipe's approach helps the reader to stay open to discoveries and insights about what may be considered the "Red Elephant" in the room.The "Red Elephant" is a topic we can no longer avoid and yet still hope to progress in the worldview often simply called "modernity." Even though the proper care and role of capitalism is highly contested in our day, denial of the deeper realizations to be gleaned from this socialist experiment is not an option.

Pipes emphasizes the uniqueness of Russia throughout his study.Only by deeply and thoroughly understanding Russia can we truly weigh the behavior of the Revolution's actors, or should I say bullies and beasts. That this history is ugly and deeply disturbing is an understatement.

To understand the uniqueness of the Russian monarch, the Tsar, necessitates understanding the uniqueness of the Russian peasants.This is the central duality that the Bolsheviks had to contend with.Neither fit into Marx's Hegelian critique, the central player of which was supposed to be the proletariat--only 1% of the population, and only a tiny percentage of this 1% were ever central players.

Pipes challenges the conventional view adopted uncritically from the Enlightenment of the "oppressed" peasants who simply need to be freed from monarch, church, and all other authorities, and modernism will triumph.Actually the main problem for the peasants was they were in their own world, isolated from education and technology and were a law and society onto themselves, with no real political or national awareness.

Surprisingly, peasants "owned" 9/10 of the arable land--but communally, not individually.They believed that all the rest of the land was their due from God, and, through the Tsar, soon to be totally theirs--revolution or not. A humorous note: the peasants looked down on city dwellers and men without beards.

Everyone seemed to be terrified of the peasants partly because they were 80 percent of the population and were taxed but barely communicated with or even acknowledged.They often rebelled, and are described as Hobbesian anarchist--without respect for law; yet they often responded with an attitude of fatalism--understandably so since edicts would drop down on them out of nowhere. (This did not change with the Revolution.)

The peasants were the wild card for the Revolutionaries. Everyone wished they would just go away; they didn't fit the formula. Whether they were destined for the Gulag or not very much depended on where they lived. Those in the wealthier bread-basket areas could and would be considered by the Bolsheviks petty bourgeoisie or kulaks, peasants with some ownership interests, capitalists, hence "enemies of the people"--believe it or not. Their socialistic traditions of always breaking up the land and sharing equally in everything kept anyone from really developing a strong system of agriculture for even one generation. (Orlando Figes' book, "A People's Tragedy," fleshes out peasant life with numerous fascinating examples, and I highly recommend it.)

The Bolsheviks would not be stopped merely by reality, but rather forced reality into their Marxist critique or changed the critique as they took control.Pipes seems to give Marx more of a pass than I would, in terms of responsibility for crazy thinking masquerading as scientific reason.

A belief in history as inexorable was at the heart of the Marxist-Leninism ideology. In his chapter "Spiritual Life," Pipes describes this belief as a primitive faith rooted in much deeper layers of human psychology than the relatively recent traditions and beliefs the Bolsheviks sought, in the name of modernity, to utterly eradicate.In seeking to deny and escape faith, the Revolutionaries became a fanatical example of what they hated.

Though I cannot agree with the author's conservation politics and economics--conclusions he may have drawn from his studies--nevertheless, his writing should be challenged only on its truth and rigor: He leaves you plenty of room to draw your own conclusions.

Dr. Pipes seems to apologize for his emotional responses and judgments--highly educated as they obviously are.But I think he simply is not willing to check his humanity at the door when seeking to understand and interpret a subject that is central to the health and development of modern thought. He is leading the way not just to an educated scientific understanding of the events of the Russian Revolution, but to a wise and deeply human one.

5-0 out of 5 stars excellent guide to understanding the Russian Revolution
This book is Richard Pipes own consolidation and abridgement of his two masterworks, "Russian Revolution" (1990) and "Russia under the Bolshevik Regime" (1994). The two volumes total 1,300 pages supported by 4,500 references.

The "Concise History" redaction is 406 pages and includes a glossary, chronology, one page of references, and a very good index.It also has 76 photos and five maps.Although it is a work of impeccable scholarship, it is also highly readable and accessible to the average reader.

Pipes is a virtuoso historian and perhaps the greatest chronicler of Russian history of all time.If you decide to read this history, you will learn a great deal about the most important event of the 20th Century (which spanned the two World Wars), and certainly the greatest experiment in utopian social engineering ever. In the process you will gain an extensive knowledge about the greatest foe the United States faced in the last Century, and how that foe came to its defeat.

Pipes concludes that "the Russian Revolution appears as the unfolding of a tragedy in which events follow with inexorable force from the mentality and character of the protagonists."And his lifetime of study of these events has left him "...less sanguine about humanity's capacity to change itself."

Recommended companion read: Aleksander Zolzhenitsyn's "The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956,"HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2002.This is a one volume abridgement by Zolzhenitsyn from the original seven volumes, which have now been remaindered.
... Read more

2. History of the Russian Revolution
by Leon Trotsky
Paperback: 1040 Pages (2008-07-01)
list price: US$32.00 -- used & new: US$18.79
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Asin: 1931859450
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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“During the first two months of 1917 Russia was still a Romanov monarchy. Eight months later the Bolsheviks stood at the helm. They were little known to anybody when the year began, and their leaders were still under indictment for state treason when they came to power. You will not find another such sharp turn in history especially if you remember that it involves a nation of 150 million people. It is clear that the events of 1917, whatever you think of them, deserve study.”
--Leon Trotsky, from History of the Russian Revolution

Regarded by many as among the most powerful works of history ever written, this book offers an unparalleled account of one of the most pivotal and hotly debated events in world history. This book reveals, from the perspective of one of its central actors, the Russian Revolution’s profoundly democratic, emancipatory character.

Originally published in three parts, Trotsky’s masterpiece is collected here in a single volume. It serves as the most vital and inspiring record of the Russian Revolution to date.

“[T]he greatest history of an event that I know.”
--C. L. R. James

“In Trotsky all passions were aroused, but his thought remained calm and his vision clear.... His involvement in the struggle, far from blurring his sight, sharpens it.... The History is his crowning work, both in scale and power and as the fullest expression of his ideas on revolution. As an account of a revolution, given by one of its chief actors, it stands unique in world literature.”
--Isaac Deutscher
... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars There's nothing like being there!
If you're looking for a light read, Trotsky's History of Russian Revolution is not the way to go by any means. But, despite its length, and despite the enormity of its topic, this is an amazingly accessible and engrossing account of one of the modern world's most important political and historical events, written by one of its main players. There are certainly some parts that are more difficult than others, and some where clearly Trotsky assumes an understanding of what happened in Russia during 1917 - an expectation of his readers that would have been utterly reasonable for the audience he was writing for, at the time he was writing, but which at times can be a bit confusing for a Westerner reading it almost 100 years later.But this is only occasionally frustrating and there is, in any event, a very helpful set of appendices and glossaris at the back that help you know who's who and what's what. It is, undoubtedly in my view, well worth the effort that it will take you to get through it. I don't think any other history of the revolution is as detailed, as comprehensive, and as engaging as this. There are times when it really has you on the edge of your seat - and that, no doubt, is largely because it is written by someone who was actually there.

Max Eastman, who was a friend of Trotsky, gives us a translation that feels tremendously fresh and was enthusiastically endorsed by Trotsky himself.

Leon Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution is partisan history at its best. One does not and should not, at least in this day in age, ask historians to be `objective'. One simply asks that the historian present his or her narrative and analysis and get out of the way. Trotsky meets that criterion. Furthermore, in Trotsky's case there is nothing like having a central actor in that drama, who can also write brilliantly and wittily, give his interpretation of the important events and undercurrents swirling around Russia in 1917. If you are looking for a general history of the revolution or want an analysis of what the revolution meant for the fate of various nations after World War I or its affect on world geopolitics look elsewhere. E.H. Carr's History of the Russian Revolution offers an excellent multi-volume set that tells that story through the 1920's. Or if you want to know what the various parliamentary leaders, both bourgeois and Soviet, were thinking and doing from a moderately leftist viewpoint read Sukhanov's Notes on the Russian Revolution. For a more journalistic account John Reed's classic Ten Days That Shook the World is invaluable. Trotsky covers some of this material as well. However, if additionally, you want to get a feel for the molecular process of the Russian Revolution in its ebbs and flows down at the base in the masses where the revolution was made Trotsky's is the book for you.

The life of Leon Trotsky is intimately intertwined with the rise and decline of the Russian Revolution in the first part of the 20th century. As a young man, like an extraordinary number of talented Russian youth, he entered the revolutionary struggle against Czarism in the late 1890's. Shortly thereafter he embraced what became a lifelong devotion to a Marxist political perspective. However, except for the period of the 1905 Revolution when Trotsky was chairman of the Petrograd Soviet and later in 1912 when he tried to unite all the Russian Social Democratic forces in an ill-fated unity conference, which goes down in history as the `August Bloc', he was essentially a free lancer in the international socialist movement. At that time Trotsky saw the Bolsheviks as "sectarians" as it was not clear to him at that time that for socialist revolution to be successful the reformist and revolutionary wings of the movement had to be organizationally split. With the coming of World War I Trotsky drew closer to Bolshevik positions but did not actually join the party until the summer of 1917 when he entered the Central Committee after the fusion of his organization, the Inter-District Organization, and the Bolsheviks. This act represented an important and decisive switch in his understanding of the necessity of a revolutionary workers party to lead the revolution.

As Trotsky himself noted, although he was a late comer to the concept of a Bolshevik Party that delay only instilled in him a greater understanding of the need for a vanguard revolutionary workers party to lead the revolutionary struggles. This understanding underscored his political analysis throughout the rest of his career as a Soviet official and as the leader of the struggle of the Left Opposition against the Stalinist degeneration of the Russian Revolution. After his defeat at the hands of Stalin and his henchmen Trotsky wrote these three volumes in exile in Turkey from 1930 to 1932. At that time Trotsky was not only trying to draw the lessons of the Revolution from an historian's perspective but to teach new cadre the necessary lessons of that struggle as he tried first reform the Bolshevik Party and the Communist International and then later, after that position became politically untenable , to form a new, revolutionary Fourth International. Trotsky was still fighting from this perspective in defense of the gains of the Russian Revolution when a Stalinist agent cut him down. Thus, without doubt, beyond a keen historian's eye for detail and antidote, Trotsky's political insights developed over long experience give his volumes an invaluable added dimension not found in other sources on the Russian Revolution.

As a result of the Bolshevik seizure of power the so-called Russian Question was the central question for world politics throughout most of the 20th century. That central question ended practically with the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990's. However, there are still lessons, not all negative, to be learned from the experience of the Russian Revolution. Today, an understanding of this experience is the task for the natural audience for this book, the young alienated radicals of Western society.

The central preoccupation of Trotsky's volumes reviewed here and of his later political career concerns the problem of the crisis of revolutionary leadership of the international labor movement and its national components. That problem can be stated as the gap between the already existing objective conditions necessary for beginning socialist construction based on the current level of capitalist development and the immaturity or lack of revolutionary leadership to overthrow the old order. From the European Revolutions of 1848 on, not excepting the heroic Paris Commune, until his time the only successful working class revolution had been in led by the Bolsheviks in Russia in 1917. Why? Anarchists may look back to the Paris Commune or forward to the Spanish Civil War in 1936 for solace but the plain fact is that absent a revolutionary party those struggles were defeated without establishing the prerequisites for socialism. History has indicated that a revolutionary party that has assimilated the lessons of the past and is rooted in the working class allied with and leading the plebian masses in its wake is the only way to bring the socialist program to fruition. That hard truth shines through Trotsky's three volumes. Unfortunately, this is still the central problem confronting the international labor movement today. Read this book many times.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best books ever written about revolution
In spite of its length, I've read this book several times. It isn't just a widely acclaimed historic and literary masterpiece, written by a leading participant in the events he describes. It isn't just vividly written and thoroughly researched.

More importantly, it's one of the best books ever written about revolution, as relevant today as ever.

The most important conclusion that emerges is the crucial role of a revolutionary party with an overwhelmingly working class membership, leadership and political orientation: a party that has trained itself in the many years of partial struggles that precede a revolutionary crisis; studied together the lessons of past revolutionary struggles throughout the world; and done everything possible to educate broader layers of workers in those lessons.

(The point is illustrated both positively and negatively. More than once, Lenin had to turn to the Bolshevik's working class rank and file against wavering intellectuals in the party leadership.)

Please don't be put off by the first chapter, the driest and most difficult in the book. The basic idea is that capitalism arrived late in Russia, imported from abroad in the form of huge factories, which laid the basis for the rapid development of a strong, militant labor movement. As a result, the emerging capitalist class was reluctant to mobilize the masses against the feudal nobles and landlords that stood in their way, for fear that the aroused workers might turn on the capitalists themselves.

Under the impact of war and economic crisis, the resulting mixture of different forms of class oppression exploded in a combined revolt of workers, farmers, and oppressed nationalities, destroying both feudalism and capitalism by the time it was through.

Several postcripts:

(1) If you're wondering what went wrong in the Soviet Union after such a promising start, I recommend "The Revolution Betrayed" by Trotsky; also "Lenin's Final Fight" by Lenin.

(2) I disagree with Trotsky's assessment of the pre-1917 differences between himself and Lenin concerning the role of working farmers, the relationship between democratic (anti-feudal) revolution and socialist revolution, and Lenin's formula, "the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry". I think Trotsky's discussion of this is confusing. I recommend "Their Trotsky and Ours" by Jack Barnes. There is also a good debate in "Bolshevism and the Russian Revolution" by Doug Jenness, Ernest Mandel, and V.I. Lenin.

(3) Another reviewer pointed out that this book is available online. However, the printed version has glossaries of people, places, organizations and unfamiliar terms; a more complete chronology; and a thorough index. I relied very heavily on all of these, so much so that I used color-coded post-its to turn to them easily. Also, parts of the online version are full of obvious typos; books from Pathfinder Press are proofread very thoroughly.

(4) Finally, I recommend the ads in the back of the book. Pathfinder Press is defined by a political goal, not commercial success. It aims to provide a platform for revolutionary leaders speaking in their own words. If you like one book, you will probably like others.

5-0 out of 5 stars How to overthrow the profit system
This is one of the most exciting books I've ever read.It tells the amazing story of the Russian revolution of 1917, from the overthrow of the Czar to the Bolshevik Revolution of October.What makes it an incredible read is that the author, Leon Trotsky, was at the middle of it all, as one of the central planners of the insurrection that took power. Trotsky was a great revolutionary and great writer. But one thing I especially like about the book is that Trotsky uses excerpts from many other accounts, including those who hated him with a passion, to tell the story accurately.It is an inspiring story, especially for new generations of young people, workers and farmers who need to learn about an example showing that the dog-eat-dog system of capitalism we live in can be overthrown.For the definitive account of how this great revolution was later derailed, see Trotsky's Revolution Betrayed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Facinating!
This book provides a very unique perspective into the Russian Revolution. Written by Leon Trotsky himself, it is an excellent way to get first hand information on the events of the revolution. Furthermore, it is very interesting to read how a leader of the revolution viewed the event after several years. Trotsky is an excellent writer, and his book is very detailed. My one warning is that if you don't know much about the Russian Revolution to begin with you may get somewhat confused because of the great amount of detail in this book.

Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution is written in the third person - just as a historian would write it - not in a first person narrative. After reading the book for a while, I sometimes even forget that it was written by Trotsky. Then, when some bizarre interpretation appears, I think - "What is this? Who wrote this book?" only to realize that, obviously, the book is written by Trotsky and would naturally be biased!

Even if you don't read the entire book, just reading some of the passages can give you a very facinating perspective into the revolution. After all, Trotsky was one of the most important leaders during the revolution. It is not often that a revolutionary leader has time to record the events he lived through. Luckily for us, Trotsky did write an account of the Russian Revolution, an event that has clearly had immense influence on world history! So, I would totally recommend this book - read it, and see what Trotsky himself has to say! ... Read more

3. Russia and the Russians: A History
by Geoffrey Hosking
Paperback: 768 Pages (2003-05-30)
list price: US$25.50 -- used & new: US$11.23
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0674011147
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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From the Carpathians in the west to the Greater Khingan range in the east, a huge, flat expanse dominates the Eurasian continent. Here, over more than a thousand years, the history and destiny of Russia have unfolded. In a sweeping narrative, one of the English-speaking world's leading historians of Russia follows this story from the first emergence of the Slavs in the historical record in the sixth century C.E. to the Russians' persistent appearances in today�s headlines. Hosking's is a monumental story of competing legacies, of an enormous power uneasily balanced between the ideas and realities of Asian empire, European culture, and Byzantine religion; of a constantly shifting identity, from Kievan Rus to Muscovy to Russian Empire to Soviet Union to Russian Federation, and of Tsars and leaders struggling to articulate that identity over the centuries.

With particular attention to non-Russian regions and ethnic groups and to Russia's relations with neighboring polities, Hosking lays out the links between political, economic, social, and cultural phenomena that have made Russia what it is--a world at once familiar and mysterious to Western observers. In a clear and engaging style, he conducts us through the Mongol invasions, the rise of autocracy, the reigns of Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, the battle against Napoleon, the emancipation of the serfs, the Crimean War, the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalin's reign of terror, the two World Wars, the end of the USSR, to today's war against Chechnya. Hosking's history is shot through with the understanding that becoming an empire has prevented Russia from becoming a nation and has perpetuated archaic personal forms of power. This book is the most penetrating and comprehensive account yet of what such a legacy has meant--to Russia, and to the world. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars What I came away with.
Above my desk is a large map of the world.A hefty section of this map is Russia.

What have I heard and read about Russia?KGB, Russian Mafia, oil, beat Hitler from the East in WW Two, Epic battle at Stalingrad, and oh yes - Stalin.

But what do I know about Russians - the people?

"Russian and the Russians" is exactly what the title describes.

What I came away with is 1) Russia is more than that little slice of Western Russia, i.e., Moscow and St. Petersburg.2) It's amazing that Russia has been able to hold it together considering the diverse ethnic groups, geography and assorted religious influences.3) A healthy respect for the Russian people and their love for "their mother earth".

A very readable history which I plan to re-read in the future.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very Good Book
Riveting.Great re-visit on Russian history for the layperson.One point of weakness, the ear of the 1960's when the author himself is in the USSR, the pronoun "I" enters into the book.Can't stand when authors use the first person to describe history."I" am reading the story and "I" am not a part of this story.

5-0 out of 5 stars RUSSIA


5-0 out of 5 stars Great One-Volume History of Russia
Hosking's book is a great one-volume look at Russian history.It begins in the first millennium AD.It continues with Russia's struggles with the Mongols and the Ottoman Empire, and it chronicles the nation's efforts to become a great European power.The tsars and the Communist era are both well-documented, and the narrative ends at the year 2000, after almost a decade of Russia's post-Communist transition period.

A recurring theme in the book is that the size, vulnerability, and geographic location of Russia all explain why Russians have turned repeatedly to collectivism and authoritarianism, and why Russia has always looked to control the nations near it in order to have a buffer zone between it and other great powers--the ex-Soviet republics that seceded at the end of the Cold War are still referred to as the "near abroad" by some Russians.

Hosking believes that Russia will continue to be a formidable power in the decades to come.Many do not agree with him.Other nations in Asia are booming, while Russia continues to have low birth rates and very high (60% - 70%) abortion rates.It is estimated that a sixth of Moscow's population is Muslim, and half the Russian army could be Muslim by 2015.The country also faces social difficulties such as alcoholism and suicide (although the flat tax instituted there has contributed to a big surge in the economy and living standards since 2000).Some have even speculated that an explosively growing China will simply move into and take over the oil-rich territory of eastern Siberia in coming decades.

Whether Russia survives in its present form will be one of the most fascinating stories that will unfold on the world stage over the course of the twenty-first century.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Overall View of Russian History
This book is a great addition to the library of anyone interested in the history of Russia. From the first origins of the Eastern Slavs to Putin's election as president of Russia, Russian and the Russians: A History takes readers down the twists and turns of Russian history. Giving large insight to the political as well as the cultural and religious history of the country, this narrative is an excellent book for those not intimidated by several hundred pages. The only reason I didn't give this book five stars was because of the somewhat jumbled chapter over the reign of Catherine the Great, on of the great monarchs of Russia, who the author doesn't talk about directly. Other than that, this book does a good job on giving you the history of Russia in an intermediate level of writing. ... Read more

4. The Cambridge History of Russian Literature
Paperback: 720 Pages (1992-05-29)
list price: US$80.00 -- used & new: US$62.70
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521425670
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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An updated edition of this comprehensive narrative history, containing a new chapter on Russian literature of the 1980s and additional bibliographical information. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars a must!
it's great! never use another reference book! ... Read more

5. Advanced Russian Through History (CD included)
by Benjamin Rifkin, Olga Kagan, Anna Yatsenko
Paperback: 264 Pages (2007-01-15)
list price: US$52.00 -- used & new: US$43.54
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0300109474
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Advanced Russian Through History is a Russian reader for intermediate and advanced students of Russian and heritage learners of Russian.  The book consists of 36 chapters focusing on the history of Russia, from Kievan Rus' to the post-Soviet era.  Each chapter features a written text, a brief lecture on the accompanying CD-ROM, and web-based learning tasks designed to promote students' abilities to understand and produce argument in the style of scholarly discourse, both in speech and in writing.

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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent tool for self-guided study
Centers study on 36 graded, glossed readings about everything from the Decembrists to Stalin. Difficult words are underlined and become the basis for some excellent vocabulary and discussion exercises online. Included is a CD with audio lectures on the same themes as the readings.

For a student who has completed two or more years of college study, this books would be an excellent tool for selfguided study, to a point. Certainly a student can work through the readings and audio/video pieces independently, but to get the most out of the exercises, be they online or in the book, one would likely need a teacher or native language tutor. (Reviewed in Russian Life)

5-0 out of 5 stars True value for the money
Reading history of Russia all the way back as far as they can go all the way up to the present is invaluable in terms of gaining new vocabulary and becoming more fluent so as to talk about it as well.

One caveat: The way that they pack the cd allows for some of the glue to get on the disk. Carefully cut from the top after removing the tab along the left or right side of the CD container to avoid this. My first disk had so much glue that I tried to remove it and it just spread around worse so that the disk was unreadable. There was still some on one edge that came off on my second disk. So, follow my instructions.

BTW, I told Amazon about the problem, they gave me the files to put on a box to return the item AND shipped me a new one on the same day. Talk about service!!!

Anyse ... Read more

6. The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945-1949
by Norman M. Naimark
Paperback: 608 Pages (1997-09-01)
list price: US$30.50 -- used & new: US$30.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0674784065
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In 1945, when the Red Army marched in, eastern Germany was not "occupied" but "liberated." This, until the recent collapse of the Soviet Bloc, is what passed for history in the German Democratic Republic. Now, making use of newly opened archives in Russia and Germany, Norman Naimark reveals what happened during the Soviet occupation of eastern Germany from 1945 through 1949. His book offers a comprehensive look at Soviet policies in the occupied zone and their practical consequences for Germans and Russians alike--and, ultimately, for postwar Europe.

In rich and lucid detail, Naimark captures the mood and the daily reality of the occupation, the chaos and contradictions of a period marked by rape and repression, the plundering of factories, the exploitation of German science, and the rise of the East German police state. Never have these practices and their place in the overall Soviet strategy, particularly the political development of the zone, received such thorough treatment. Here we have our first clear view of how the Russians regarded the postwar settlement and the German question, how they made policy on issues from reparations to technology transfer to the acquisition of uranium, how they justified their goals, how they met them or failed, and how they changed eastern Germany in the process. The Russians in Germany also takes us deep into the politics of culture as Naimark explores the ways in which Soviet officers used film, theater, and education to foster the Bolshevization of the zone.

Unique in its broad, comparative approach to the Soviet military government in Germany, this book fills in a missing--and ultimately fascinating--chapter in the history of modern Europe.

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Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Little known German History
I found the book to be informative and enlightening.The story of the Russian occupation of Germany, especially Berlin, after the war has received little, if any, attention by those writers of World War II history.The suffering of the Germans under Russian occupation was as severe as in the Russian Gulags.And of course many Germans ended up there as well.This book is well written and documented to provide a unique insight to this little known part of World War II history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well deserved
This superb book is a very well documented academic account of the treatment of the Germans by the Russian after World War II.In reading the book, I constantly remembered that the Russians would not have occupied East Germany if Germany had not attacked Russia.If the Germans had not elected Hitler and fought for him in World War II, they could have avoided the consequences of the occupation.German women were raped and German men were forced to work in the mines, but no German was sent to gas chambers by the Russians who liberated them from the Nazis.

4-0 out of 5 stars Extremely enlightening, academic though impersonal.
This is a work of great scholarship, dealing in both Russian and German documents and made possible by the opening up of some, though by no means all, of the relevant Soviet archives.It describes the various attitudes and political strategies adopting by the occupying Soviet power in the Eastern zone of Germany in the immediate post war period.There are revealing episodes in the changing Russian emotions from grotesque revenge in terms of personal humiliations, robbery and `reparations' to the dawning realisation that a viable political and economic system had to be put in place in the emerging, divided Germany.This change necessitated a vibrant, popular German socialist party which would obey Moscow in every detail.The failure of the imposed German communism is quite clearly laid out - from the early days of ignoring Russian soldiers revenge-crimes (the strongest the KPD came to condemnation was that criminals `dressed in Russian uniforms' were marauding) to the intimidation of opponents in the elections which were staged. A surprise for me was the insistence, in documentation at least, among the Soviets that the German communists had to win elections. Huge amounts of vitriol were poured on the hapless Communists for their failure to win popularity, even as the Soviets extinguished all other opposition.
There is quite a level of detail about the political machinations within the German political parties, and within the various parts of the Soviet control systems - towards the end, Stalin became quite suspicious of the loyalty of Soviet officers stationed in Germany.The book is quite excellent in its descriptions of the changing priorities and policies.
Nonetheless I felt somewhat disappointed by the book in two respects - I was quite expecting that the early days in the occupation would see a continuation of the conflict between the Russian commanders Zhukov and Konev, which I had read about in other books.There was almost no discussion of this, though it did concentrat on the Russian militaries efforts to initially administer the zone, and eventually to yield political control to `reliable' Germans.I felt the book could have taken a more anecdotal approach to flesh out some of the personality clashes behind the policy discussions. A more fundamental reservation is the fact that neither the Soviets nor the German communists represented anything like popular political forces,and , by concentrating on the archives, the book does not adequately represent the nature of the struggle that ordinary Germans had in the GDR. The 1953 rebellion, the cynicism of Brecht and his artistic cohorts, the self-censorship and Stasi-control are alluded too, but these, more than Communist policy, gave the GDR its peculiar flavour.It was quite difficult to picture this from the book.
Overall this is book well worth reading, even today, about the perils and travails of an occupying force attempting to install a regime which is both popular and pliant.

4-0 out of 5 stars Final Chapter of WWII
Every story has to have an ending, every tale has winners and losers but to every end their is another beginning. This book tells the beginning of the "new" beginning of Germany after the most horrific war in human history. But as we are to know, their are two tales of Germany, the East and the West. This is story of the East, just the first 4 years and how a broken country was pushed towards Sovietization and had its citizens punished in one way or another until in the end, the cracks of the Soviet/Socialist system broke and Germany in the end was free.

This book is not the greatest as it repeats itself at times and it seems like you are missing a major part of the story when you finish one chapter. Every chapter starts in '45 and ends in '49 and each subject written on that chapter is sorted out that way. Sounds simple but it does get complicated at times. The best chapters though deal with the Formation of the SED and the man with the greatest influence on the East German political system: Tuil'panov. Those two chapters tell the most important aspects of East Germany as they are the best reads of the book.

An intersting book with good research put into it but in the end their is something missing. If the book could have put a little more enphasis on world politics concerning East Germany at that time it would have been more enjoyable otherwise you have to wonder why things happened at the exact moment they happened.

This is the last chapter of WWII for Germany a chapter that laster 46 years. This is how it all began. The major players are all examined in the political sense but not in a personal sense, another flaw in the book. But even they wanted the best for the German people, one system against another, one ideolegy against another and Germany in the middle of it again. The cold war did not revolve around Germany but to Superpowers respected leaders, Germany was the most important place of all to show what each system could do. Understand how it all started by reading this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Unknown History
Very unique study of the Red Army Occuaption of Germany following World War 2.It is fascinating to read how the Russians used both the carrot and the stick in an attempt to win the Germans over to the Soviet cause.This should be contrasted to the western allies who viewed all Germans as Nazis.

The Soviets created difficulties for themselves as they had competing agencies trying to rule the defeated Reich each with their own agenda.The author cleary shows through East German communuist and Soviet documents how the brutality of rape and widespread looting caused the soviets to lose the hearts and minds of the majority of the East Germans.

A very well researched account of an unknown chapter in European history.Too much is devoted to the Berlin Wall.Little is devoted to why the east Germans built it.This book explains why.

I gave this book four stars only as this book is not for the light reader but directed to a very specialized market. ... Read more

7. The Icon and the Axe : An Interpretive History of Russian Culture
by James Billington
Paperback: 880 Pages (1970-12-12)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$14.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394708466
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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"A rich and readable introduction to the whole sweep of Russian cultural and intellectual history from Kievan times to the post-Khruschev era." - Library Journal. Illustrations, references, index. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

3-0 out of 5 stars Well-Written, but Flawed
There should be a number of apologies made for this book simply on account of its age. There is one recent competitor to it in English, Figes's "Natasha's Dance", but I have not read it, and cannot compare the two.

There is a sort of symbol of the book's flaws in its frequent use of the term "organic religious civilization". The term is never defined, never showed: It is simply used as a short hand to remove medieval and early modern Rus from the reader's sphere of reference and retain its alien nature. Certainly, the Orthodox religion is key to understanding the differences between West European and Russian culture, but Billington seems to have little understanding of it, which leads to deep misunderstandings in the work. Hesychasm is interpreted as an analogue to Protestantism; the basic issues over which the Old Belief schism happened are confused or misstated; Orthodoxy is, in short, throughout displayed as a shadow of Western Chrisitanity. It is not a mistake of his age, either. Billington had access to the great theologians and religious historians of the Russian emigres, but except for a couple of citations from Lossky regarding iconography, he seems to have ignored it.

The other issue with the work is a very mid-20th century whitewashing of the Soviet state and the Communist Revolution. Billington primarily portrays it as the triumph of westward-looking St. Petersburg over Moscow, and in the context of the book's narrative, that sounds like an endorsement. Stalin is simply seen as being on a continuum with Ivan the Terrible, and is interpreted for the book's West European readers as just another example of Russian strangeness.

This review is in no way exhaustive, and I would certainly note that the book deserves the three stars which I gave it. However, I worry that when the book showed stark weaknesses in areas that I am very familiar with, that it may have shown weaknesses in others I am more ignorant of. I can forgive mischaracterizations in Billington's brief asides into military history (after all, such is not the focus of the work), but shortcomings in its core need to be taken seriously.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant and Beautiful Russian Cultural History.
_The Icon and the Axe:An Interpretive History of Russian Culture_, first published in 1966 and made available here by Vintage Books, by renowned Russian scholar James H. Billington is a fascinating and highly detailed account of Russia's unique cultural history.James H. Billington (1929 - ) is a renowned Russian scholar who was a professor at Harvard and Princeton and is currently serving as the Librarian of Congress.His work has chiefly focused on Russian history and culture and also revolutionary movements including his excellent book _Fire in the Minds of Men_ (1980).Billington's scholarship is of the highest caliber, but his books may prove difficult for some given the fact that they are heavily footnoted and extremely scholarly.Billington defines this book as an "interpretive history of modern Russian thought and culture" and explains that resulting from his own reflections it offers a selective account of the rise and development of Russian culture and thought in the last 600 years.Russian culture offers a unique heritage and this book explores that heritage as it has existed in Russia's history.In his Preface, Billington explains that two artifacts have been chosen to serve as the title for this book - the icon and the axe - and that each has a unique and important meaning.The icon or holy picture represents Russia's spiritual heritage; while the axe is an unholy weapon.Both of these artifacts may be found "hung together on the wall of the peasant hut in the wooded Russian north" and "suggest both the visionary and earthy aspects of Russian culture".However, as the author notes ironically, the icon has been wielded by charlatans and demagogues while the axe has been wielded by saints and artists.Several important components play into Russia's cultural heritage including the history of the tsars, the lives of the peasants represented strongly in the traditions of their religion Eastern Christianity, and later the arrival of the Marxists who took over Russia in the form of Bolshevism.Billington identifies three supra-personal forces at work in Russian culture - nature itself, Eastern Christendom, and the impact of the West.This book explores all such important components in detail.The book is expertly footnoted and includes several detailed maps and various images and pictures.

Billington begins his book with a Preface in which he explains his understanding of an interpretive cultural history, explores the notions behind the artifacts of the icon and the axe, and traces out his cultural history of Russia.This is followed by a section detailing his Acknowledgements.The first part of the book is entitled "Background".Here, Billington begins by detailing the earliest history of modern Russia as it existed in "Kiev", the role of the Slavs and Mongols, and the arrival of Christianity in the form of Eastern Orthodoxy.Billington explores ancient Russia literature and various sagas and lays.Following this, Billington turns to "The Forest" where he traces out Russia's earliest history, noting the relationship between the ancient tribes, how Eastern Christianity came to dominate, and the history of earliest Russia.Billington details this through sections exploring "Axe and Icon" and "Bell and Cannon".The second part of this book is entitled "The Confrontation" and explores the early Fourteenth to the early Seventeenth centuries.Billington traces out "The Muscuvite Ideology", noting the rise of Moscow as the "third Rome", tracing the heritage of the Russian rulers from the time of the semi-legendary Riurik, and exploring the mystical traditions of the Eastern Church and the Hesychasts.Billington next examines "The Coming of the West", noting the problematic role of Russia's relationship with the West.Billington discusses such things as "Novgorod", ""The Latins"", ""The Germans"", and "The Religious Wars".In particular, Billington notes the importance of Spain on Russia, the relationship between the Eastern churches and the Roman Catholics, the role of the tsars and the tsar seen as an Old Testament king, the notion of "Holy Rus", and various other relationships between Russia and the West.The third part of this book is entitled "The Century of Schism" and discusses history between the periods of the Mid-Seventeenth to the Mid-Eighteenth centuries.Billington discusses such things as "The Split Within" mentioning the schism of 1667 and considering such responses as "The Theocratic Answer", "The Fundamentalist Answer", and "The Great Change".Billington also discusses "The Westward Turn" mentioning such things as "New Religious Answers", "The Sectarian Tradition", "The New World of St. Petersburg", and "The Defense of Muscovy".The fourth part of this book is entitled "The Century of Aristocratic Culture" and discusses the Mid-Eighteenth to the Mid-Nineteenth centuries.Billington first discusses "The Troubled Enlightenment".Here, Billington examines such topics as "The Dilemma of the Reforming Despot", "The Fruits of the Enlightenment", "The Alienation of the Intellectuals", "Novikov and Masonry", and "The Frustration of Political Reform".Following this, Billington examines "The Anti-Enlightenment".Billington examines the forces operating against the Enlightenment in the form of the "Catholics", the "Pietists", the "Orthodox", and "The Legacy".Next, Billington considers ""The Cursed Questions"", examining the problems taken up by aristocratic intellectuals.Billington examines such topics as "The Flight to Philosophy", "The Meaning of History", "The Prophetic Role of Art", "The Missing Madonna", and "The "Hamlet Question"".The fifth part of this book is entitled "On to New Shores" and examines thought as it developed in the second half of the Nineteenth Century.Billington examines such issues as "The Turn to Social Thought", "The Agony of Populist Art", and "New Perspectives of the Waning Century" (including discussion of "Constitutional Liberalism", "Dialectical Materialism", and "Mystical Idealism").The sixth part of this book is entitled "The Uncertain Collosus" and examines the period of the Twentieth century including the rise of the Soviets.Billington first devotes a section entitled "Crescendo" in which he examines periods following the revolution of 1917 and discussing such things as "Prometheanism", "Sensualism", and "Apocalypticism".Following this, Billington discusses "The Soviet Era" mentioning such topics as "The Leninist Legacy" and "The Revenge of Muscovy".Next, Billington discusses "Fresh Ferment", mentioning some of the accomplishments in Russian culture under Bolshevism.Here, Billington discusses such things as "The Reprise of Pasternak" and "New Voices".This part ends with a discussion of "The Irony of Russian History".Here, Billington discusses the concept of irony and absurdity, traces the role of Russian history from the time of the tsars to the post-Stalinist era, and discusses Russia in a post-Stalinist world.The book ends with an extremely detailed Bibliography, References, and an Index.

This book offers an extremely rich source of valuable material on Russia's unique and lasting cultural contributions.Many themes play out throughout the book including the natural spirituality of the Russian people and the role of the Eastern churches, the history of the Russian tsars and the courtly culture, the role of aristocrats and intellectuals, the role of artists, writers, and poets, the problematic of Russia's relationship with the West, and finally the rise of the Soviet state and Russia under the Soviets.If one seeks to understand these contributions of Russian culture, one can surely look in no better source than here.While the book is difficult, it remains an essential study meandering through the threads of Russian cultural history and bringing forth much detailed and rich information.It is highly recommended to all those who seek to understand in depth Russian culture.

5-0 out of 5 stars A foundation to understanding Russia
When I began my business career in Russia, I asked a Finnish banker "What makes a Russian tick?" The immediate response was read "The Icon and the Axe." I did that and have recommended to many others and the indispensible basic work to begin understanding Russia and the Russians. We each have to have our own experience in that world, but Dr. Billington's book is the best first step. Much of what I learned was put to use and reflected in my own account. Walking on Ice: An American Businessman in Russia

4-0 out of 5 stars Details
This book was at times, so very detailed as to be ponderous.
However,these details also provided a wealth of information and a great source for future reference.

5-0 out of 5 stars Russian Culture Viewed Through A Prism
This is an impressive chronicle on Russian culture, emphasising its `intellectual and artistic' qualities over the past six centuries and bringing many unknown facets to light.Billington speaks of three `forces' in particular that dominate the main narrative; `The natural surroundings, the Christian heritage, and the Western contacts of Russia'.Each of these themes reveals a wealth of insight and understanding; `the natural surroundings' become an elemental power where a...`Telluric sense of communion with the earth' alternates `with a restless impulse to be `skitaltsy' or wanderers over the Russian land'.`The Christian heritage,' looks at Russian Orthodoxy in the broader context of an all encompassing `spiritual culture' that `permeates' through all of life; and `the Western contacts of Russia' relates the growing inevitability of Russia impinging upon Europe and itself being altered through European currents of action and thought.We read how... `Catherine substituted the city for the monastery as the main centre of Russian culture.She, and not Peter, closed down monasteries on a massive scale'...and so on for page after page, as though mining a rich seam.This is a hugely ambitious book that succeeds triumphantly and is truly worth the immersion!

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8. Reinterpreting Russian History: Readings 860-1860s
Paperback: 464 Pages (1994-01-06)
list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$24.92
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0195078586
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The first comprehensive reader in Russian history in almost two decades, this collection includes primary and secondary material, much of which has never before been published in English, reflecting the latest scholarship on the subject. Supplemented by over 70 illustrations, selections are introduced by placing them in the context of the work's major themes: state structure, the economy, society, and culture and everyday life. From the multi-ethnic peopling of early Russia to the elite society of the nineteenth century, original sources illuminate such topics as state-building, government and politics, the peasantry and the countryside, clergy and religious communities, and women and gender, making this comprehensive text vital for students of Russian history. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars interesting
this book is pretty sweet.i needed it for a class and history usually bores me.this book is pretty concise, and has some really interesting parts. i recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Russian history
This is an excellent text offering commentary and translations of original historical documents.Easy to read and understand.

4-0 out of 5 stars History is in the Details
So, you want to learn about Imperial and Pre-Imperial Russia?Good Choice.This book is also a good choice for that.Broken down into sections that cover the rise of the Imperial government from the first tribes of the Russian Steppe to the great reforms of the 1860s.The format is easily understood and allows quick reference.each section is composed of primary documents and then articles by various historians on the subjects raised in the primary documents.The disscusion is interesting, and brings together both Russian and Western Historians.THe primary documents are well chosen and run the gamut from childrens scratchings in birchbark from what is presumably a school room to the text of some of Alexander II's public statements on serfdom.Combined with a large selection of images from the periods, the book gives a good feel of what the time was like.

The primary sources also show a sensitivity to different ways of looking at and for history.there are some transcriptions of folk tales, and some law codes, (rather more of the latter than the former).For students interested in seeing what the big names in historical reaserch are using to write their learned texts, this is an excellent introduction to the world of primary sources from early history;and since the literature discusses the sources which have already been shown, the student can see how they were incorporated.

There are two reasons i gave this book 4 stars rather than 5.first, its hard to get a good grasp of history from the book, since it feels vaguely disjointed and eposodic rather than flowing.this is not anything that could not be solved with a good companion (i recommend Gregory Freeze's "Russia: A History") but it makes reading it on its own difficult for a person not well versed in the history, which is a pity since the writing is easy to read and would otherswise make a good book for the lay person.Secondly, (and this isn't a flaw for me, but some of my friends who read it with me in the class i took with this book as a text thought it was) was that the book spends a lot of time looking at law codes.i happen to like that, but some of my friends who are more interested in the "story" of history found it deadly dull.if you look at the rest of Kaiser's work, you will notice a certian tendancy toward law codes.so that is something to keep in mind.on the whole, this is definitely one of the best history books i have read on russia in general and on pre imperial russia it is one of the best. ... Read more

9. A History of Russian Literature (Comprising A History of Russian Literature and Contemporary Russian Literature)
by D. S. Mirsky
 Hardcover: 518 Pages (1958)

Asin: B0007HOF5C
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10. The Routledge Atlas of Russian History: From 800 BC to the Present Day (Routledge Historical Atlases)
by Martin Gilbert
Hardcover: 248 Pages (2002-10-18)
list price: US$100.00 -- used & new: US$89.67
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0415281180
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Bringing new material to view, and with eight new maps, the complex and often turbulent history of Russia over the course of 2000 years is brought to life in a series of 177 maps by one of the most successful historian writers today. ... Read more

11. An Atlas of Russian History: Eleven Centuries of Changing Borders, Revised Edition
by Allen F. Chew
Paperback: 140 Pages (1967-09-10)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$18.70
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0300014457
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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From ninth-century Kievan Rus through World War II, 34 maps and associated commentary detail political, geographical, and historical evolution of Russian state and peoples. "An atlas to be welcomed by every student of Eastern Rurope."--Choice ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Russian Middle Ages
I am studying this subject since years and since years I was seeking a good historical Atlas based on recentest archeological research. This revised edition is really good even tho not the ideal one given the new Russian works that have been edited and re-edited in these latest years. Still I am sure it could be of any help to my studies. ... Read more

12. The Russian Century: A History of the Last Hundred Years
by Brian Moynahan
 Paperback: 288 Pages (1997-02-06)
list price: US$25.85
Isbn: 0712673091
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A survey of the forces that led Russia to revolution twice during the 20th century. Making use of contemporary letters, memoirs and documents, the book traces Russia's course from the last tsars to the present day and looks at what the future may hold. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars History at breakneck speed
A short gallop through one of the most facinating periods of recent history. The author wears his heart on his sleeve most of the time - his distaste for the ideology is always to the fore. He neglects to examine the confusion and fear of many older people when communism collapsed. The pace means that some human interest stories are passed over or only briefly visited - The basement in Ekaterinberg, Stalins body in the mausoleum, Khruschevs' fall from power, etc. But this leaves you with the desire to investigate these areas further. He is especially interesting and illuminating about the events of 1917 - the sequence of events are explained brilliantly.A good read and a good place to start.

4-0 out of 5 stars Brief but Effective History
I enjoyed reading this treatment of Russian history immensely. To be fair, it was concise and lacking in depth, but I was looking for an overview of the century so it was exactly what I required. The only real weakness I found in the book was that the latter half of the century was really glossed over. The Bolshevik Revolution through Stalin's reign is solid, while the 60s-90s period is given only a brief glance.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking to know "just the basics" of 20th century Russia. Many of the descriptions provided by primary sources are startling and chilling. It is well worth reading for this alone.

5-0 out of 5 stars Stunning Photography of Russia & the former Soviet Union
I was introduced to this book by my Russian language & literature professor at college. I quickly tracked down a copy for my personal library.

This book has some AMAZING photographs!!! I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Russian or Soviet history or culture. A picture certainly is worth a thousand words!

4-0 out of 5 stars Journalism at its best
Moynahan's journalistic instincts are to the fore in this fast moving account of one of history's great upheavals. The author has plenty of experience covering Russia as a journalist at The Times. The coverage doesn't just take in the politics or revolution. There's social history, art and lifestyle - as well as all the gruesome stuff involving purges, genocide and the death camps in eastern siberia.

It also has some wonderful pictures - especially one showing an old woman experiencing voting for the first time.Something that is so familiar to most of us was so alien to her.She was ninety and old enough to remember Tsar Nicholas.

The coverage is heavily bent towards the first half of the century since most of the action took place then.Moynahan's big picture style means that you really get a feel for how traumatic and vengeful these times were for ordinary people.The revolutions and the spread of communist power throughout the empire was quite simply government by a gang of murderous thugs. Fiends of the worst possible kind with a liking for violence.

The end of the party and the Russian Empire is dealt with only lightly since the book was first written in the early 1990s.(I read the 1994 version and haven't got around to reading an updated version).That, I don't, think is a big issue since most readers will have been around long enough to have a pretty good handle on the Gorbachev and Yeltsin years anyway.

All too often, these types of histories are academic (often mind numbing) and/or far too long.This one is short, sucinct and highly entertaining.In fact, anyone wishing to get into the excellent accounts of the revolution by Figes or Pipes should read this one first.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Quick Dip Into Russian History
The Russian Century is a whirlwind tour through the last 100 years of Russia's history, with the core of the book dedicated to Stalin and the WWII years.This is a short, fast book that touches lightly on the key events of the century but discusses none in great detail.

Moynahan is a journalist and not a historian -- he gives the reader the feel and flavor of the Russian experience instead of a hardcore analysis.It is the sizzle of Russian history without the meat.This is a book where one learns that Lenin disguised himself with a gray wig during the Bolshevik Revolution, and that Stalin once fired a famous jazz singer because her songs were too complex for his taste.On the other hand, the Yalta conference is alluded to in just one sentence and never discussed again.Raisa Gorbachev's shopping habits receive several mentions, while the complex internal politics behind glasnost are glossed over.

These are not faults -- just differences.The Russian Century is the perfect "survey course" for someone new to Russian history.They can get the quick overview here and then learn more about specific events in other books. ... Read more

13. Russian Intellectual History: An Anthology
by Marc Raeff
 Paperback: 404 Pages (1966-06)
list price: US$39.98 -- used & new: US$23.99
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Asin: 1573922943
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Acquaints those unable to read Russian with writings that have helped to shape the social and political consciousness of modern Russia. Most of these documents, from the 18th and 19th centuries, have never appeared in English. ... Read more

14. The Russian Civil War 1918-22 (Essential Histories)
by David Bullock
Paperback: 144 Pages (2008-11-18)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1846032717
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The Russian Civil War was the most important event of its kind in the 20th century. It changed the lives of over half a billion people and dramatically shaped the political, human and economic geography of Europe, the Far East and Central Asia. Over a tempestuous four-year period the Communist Red Army and the loosely formed, anti-Bolshevist White Army battled in a war that would totally transform the vast Eurasian heartland and lead to Communist revolutions worldwide as well as the Cold War. David Bullock offers a fresh perspective on this conflict, examining the forces of both sides, the intervention of non-Russian forces, including American, Canadian, British, and Japanese troops, and the involvement of female soldiers and partisans.

The military story of massed infantry and cavalry actions, mechanized warfare with tanks, armored cars and trains, and air combat, all along rapidly shifting fronts, is told against the incredible backdrop of political and social revolution. It is an account that is interwoven with tragedy - 30 million people died during the Civil War - and the author skillfully places the battles in the context of human suffering as he explores the cruel sacrifice of a huge population on the altar of political power.

The absorbing text includes dramatic first-hand accounts, and is vividly illustrated with carefully selected previously unpublished photographs. This new insight into history's most significant civil war, which began 90 years ago, will be welcomed by all students of history seeking a compact account of the conflict that brought into being a new superpower - the USSR - and its threatening ideology. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars The most understandable overview of this period, highly recommended
***** (5) stars "The most understandable overview of this period, highly recommended"
This book is part of the Essential History Series and therefore follows a format established by the editors. All other books in this series have been published at 100 pages, but interestingly, this volume clocks in at 150 pages, a 50% expansion from the others in the series and is therefore unique. No doubt this expansion became necessary due to the sheer immensity of the subject.
There are 100 photos and color period artwork, most of which I have not seen before, and these alone are worth the small price for the book. Moreover, there are eight maps in color, in fact, the only color maps I have seen on this subject.
The author does not get mired down in the Revolution, but explains it, then moves directly into the civil war itself. Clearly, he admires the military prowess of several of the Whites units, but this was historical fact. On the other hand, he also offers the finest single treatise on the military abilities of the Anarchists that I have seen. The section on women in the civil war I have never seen anywhere, and this was a particular delight.
Far from being a chronology, I tried comparing several of my books to specific passages in Dr. Bullock's work and discovered that almost every paragraph has been constructed from a synthesis of information from many sources. Yet, I found the language clear and the narrative extremely understandable. A lot more has gone into this book than meets the eye.
If you read this book in a hurry you will miss the real "politics" underneath. Clearly, the author is neither communist nor Tsarist. Recognizing that the Red Soviet regime was the most brutal in human history in terms of the millions killed in the name of "progress" (although the record of communist China has yet to be revealed), the author is correct in not falling into line with many works of the past that have proclaimed this sacrifice as necessary and good.
I understood that (underlying the author's treatment of material) he believes that a European-style parliamentarian system, a Russian Duma, would have been the best final outcome, what Russia finally received after the fall of the Iron Curtain.He seems to have sympathy with the emergent nationalist states, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Kronstadt sailors, the Antonov Rebellion, the plight of Ukraine, and of course with the Whites who espoused parliamentarian reform. This book is not the same old, tired diatribe of the Marxist "Old Guard."

4-0 out of 5 stars Good but not great
This book attempts to follow the Russian Civil War which broke out in 1918 following the Bolshevik takeover of the Russian provisional government. This subject is not an easy one, as there were two important factions (the Whites and the Reds), several smaller groups (the Greens and Blacks) and foreign interventionists involved in the war at one time or another. As a result of internal and external considerations the Russian Civil war saw fighting on many different fronts which ebbed forward and backwards depending on the fortunes of war and the interventions from outside countries. David Bullock does a credible job of putting all this together in a way that is understandable, but there are points in the text in which things are explained more than once. At other times entities or states (such as the Far Eastern Republic) are discussed but never explained. Maps are available throughout the book, but specialized maps of specific campaigns which would have made the action easier to understand are (with few exceptions) lacking. The illustrations are excellent, consisting as they do of period photographs and artwork. In all, the effort and material put into this book make it a good addition for anyone studying WWI or the Russian Civil War.

1-0 out of 5 stars Do not buy this book if you want a balanced account of this war.
This book is too biased towards the White forces.The author ignores facts which put the White forces in a bad light. He makes no mention of the Whites committing pogroms against Jews. Throughout Russian history Cossacks are the most brutal bunch of soldiers you can find.The lowest levels of violence happened in Red controlled areas.Anarchists are pOrtrayed as being just a bunch of bandits.
His arguments offen contradict themselves. He thinks the Bolsheviks are arrogant for 'daring' to have a political program for the people.Then laments the fact that White forces did not have a political program.

2-0 out of 5 stars Shallow -- not much more than a glorified chronology
If you are looking for a good overview of the Russian Civil war this probably isn't in. This volume is spare with little more than the most general overview of the campaigns. Despite attempts at deeper dives in a couple of subject area (e.g., the role of Women in the Civil War), this book is mostly about "when" things happened, with only the barest description of "what" and nothing at all on "how." How did Trotsky rework the Red forces? The book lets you know he did this but nothing on what was by all accounts a critical component of the Red success. How did the White forces first come together? They essentially spring up and start fighting in this book. Readers may be aware that the Ukraine was a major battle ground during this period. But it merits only a few paragraphs in this book. Key commanders get only the barest of introductions -- their birth and WWI decorations being apparently all that is necessary to convey.

Since the author apparently interviewed veterans of the Civil War, you have to assume he has some background in the subject. But almost nothing from these interviews or any other source material seems to have made it through to the book.

If you are looking for a quick read to get a general sense of the Russian Civil War, then this book is a good fit. If you are really interested in the topic and want to get an understanding of what happened and why, you will need to look elsewhere.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good overview

A good overview of the Russian Civil War from reasons for the war to its end.This is not an in-depth history of that period of Russian history, but a good synopsis of the period.The photos that accompanied the text were appropriate and of good quality.If this is indicative of the series that this book is part of, then the series would be worth reading for other histories of important historical periods. ... Read more

15. A History of Russian Architecture
by William Craft Brumfield
Paperback: 664 Pages (2004-07)
list price: US$50.00 -- used & new: US$38.47
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Asin: 0295983930
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Since its initial publication in 1993, "A History of Russian Architecture" has remained the most comprehensive study of the topic in English, a volume that defines the main components and sources for Russia's architectural traditions in their historical context, from the early medieval period to the present. This edition includes a new prologue and an elegant photographic essay drawn from the author's research and fieldwork over the past decade in remote areas of the Russian north and Siberia. Subject to influences from east and west, Russian architecture's distinctive approaches to building are documented in four parts of this definitive study: early medieval Rus up to the Mongol invasion in the mid-twelfth century; the revival of architecture in Novgorod and Muscovy from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries; Peter the Great's cultural revolution, which extended through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; and the advent of modern, avant-garde, and monumental Soviet architecture. Beautifully illustrated and carefully researched, "A History of Russian Architecture" provides an invaluable cultural history that will be of interest to scholars and general audiences alike. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars disappointed
I suppose I was set up for disappointment by the four 5-star reviews, so this is to balance those out - Actually, I'd give this a three and a half, mainly because I am used to books where at least the majority of the reproductions are in colour. This is the pitfall of buying unseen off the internet, and I think that disappointment for me is the main reaction for many art books purchased this way. In this volume, everthing is in black and white with the exception of five or six inserts each with maybe fifteen or twenty buildings featured in colour. That said, the text is readable, and from the little I know of Russian architecture, comprehensive. Just be aware of the pictures being mainly in black and white.

4-0 out of 5 stars FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
A wonderful book on a fascinating subject.Russian architecture is so varied, I really had no idea and this book is exhaustingly thorough.I especially enjoyed the section on Imperial Russian Architecture and the later Soviet Architecture.It is obvious how Speer influenced Soviet architecture, his Third Reich Berlin may have never been realized, but his spirit it is alive and well in Soviet buildings.If you have any interest in Russia or architecture or just well researched, scholarly books, then i cant imagine you being disappointed.


5-0 out of 5 stars The best book in English about Russian Architecture
Russian architecture is not well known to Western readers. Prof. Brumfieldis a prolific and systematical writer about Russian architecture. Reviewing book is the best modern book in English about a history ofRussian architecture. The book covers whole periods of a long history ofthe glorious Russian architecture. Author have visited Russia several timesand most of pictures made byauthor and that also makes his approach moreunique and personal. Text, pictures and references are very impressive andhigly professional. As a systematical desription of history of Russianarchitecture (data base) it is close to classical Grabar's work History ofRussian Culture (in Russian). The book creates a solid basement forbuilding a theoryof Russian architecture with discussionits origin, itsunique stylistic features and factors which influence the development ofRussian architecture. Prof. Brumfield's bookestablished a golden standardfor any other attempt to write a book about a history of Russianarchitecture (in Russian or in English). I have this book and I am treatingit as a my national treasure. Everybody who are interested in thearchitecture and/or Russian architecture must buy this excellent,beautiful, well written, highly informative and richly illustrated book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive review of a millenium of Russian Art & Arch.
I studied under Brumfield at Tulane, with this book as the main text forstudy. He employs strong, fluid writing to encompass a millenium of russianexpression and turmoil. The book does not lose its sense of history. Adecisive book for any interested. ... Read more

16. A History of Russian Music: Being an Account of the Rise and Progress of the Russian School of Composers, With a Survey of Their Lives and a Description of Their Works [1914 ]
by Montagu Montagu-Nathan
Paperback: 420 Pages (2009-09-22)
list price: US$26.99 -- used & new: US$26.99
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Asin: 1112434925
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Originally published in 1914.This volume from the Cornell University Library's print collections was scanned on an APT BookScan and converted to JPG 2000 format by Kirtas Technologies.All titles scanned cover to cover and pages may include marks notations and other marginalia present in the original volume. ... Read more

17. A History of Russian Thought from the Enlightenment to Marxism
by Andrzej Walicki
 Paperback: 476 Pages (1979-06-01)
list price: US$32.95 -- used & new: US$26.94
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Asin: 0804711321
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This study, first published in 1980, offers a synthesis of Russian intellectual history from the reign of Catherine II to the end of the 19th century. It emphasizes philosophy but also discusses the European political, social and economic ideas that expanded Russian intellectual horizons. Andrzej Walicki is the author of four other books including "Legal Philosophies of Russian Liberalism". ... Read more

18. The Russian Moment in World History
by Marshall T. Poe
Paperback: 136 Pages (2006-02-06)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$10.16
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Asin: 0691126062
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Is Russian history one big inevitable failure? The Soviet Union's demise and Russia's ensuing troubles have led many to wonder. But this is to look through a skewed prism indeed. In this provocative and elegantly written short history of Russia, Marshall Poe takes us well beyond the Soviet haze deep into the nation's fascinating--not at all inevitable, and in key respects remarkably successful--past.

Tracing Russia's course from its beginnings to the present day, Poe shows that Russia was the only non-Western power to defend itself against Western imperialism for centuries. It did so by building a powerful state that molded society to its military needs. Thus arose the only non-Western path to modern society--a unique path neither "European" nor "Asian" but, most aptly, "Russian."

From the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, Russia prevailed despite unparalleled onslaughts by powerful Western armies. However, while Europe nurtured limited government, capitalism, and scientific and cultural revolution, early Russian society cultivated autocracy and command economics. Both Europe and Russia eventually created modern infrastructures, but the European model proved more productive and powerful. The post-World War I communist era can be seen as a natural continuation of Russia's autocratic past that, despite its tragic turns, kept Russia globally competitive for decades.

The Russian moment in world history thus began with its first confrontations with Europe in the fifteenth century, and ended in 1991 with the Soviet collapse. Written with verve and great insight, The Russian Moment in World History will be widely read and vigorously debated by those who seek a clear and unequivocal understanding of the complex history that has made Russia what it is today.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

1-0 out of 5 stars "general" readers, expect to be insulted
Like the reviewer above, I'm also surprised by the amount of good (or at least mildly approving) press this work has recieved. I found it to be appallingly confused and ill-argued.

Poe asserts that Russia was the only world power able to ward off European domination due to its fortuitous geopolitical advantage and the social engineering made possible by its autocratic government. Underlying this whole mess is the premise (or is it the conclusion? one can never be sure with circular reasoning) that Russia is not European. Apparently, the main balast of this claim is the difference in standard of living between Russia and Sweden. Additionally, Russia (whether he means Tsarist Russia, the RSFSR, or the Post-Soviet Federation I have no idea) was a poor imperialist because it was only able to conquer "indigenous, traditional" people. That "fortuitous" geopolitical advantage so essential to Russia's world power status was partly due to imperial conquest. Poe is using an narrow and outdated definition of imperialism or colonialism to be able to make that assertion. My suspicions are also aroused by his stance on the Mongol invasions--first, they had no effect whatsover, as Mongol and Russian cultures were too different for any meaningful interaction; second, Mongol patronage propelled the Muscovite princes into hegemony. Which is it?

There are so many factual deficiencies and logical inconsistencies in this work it is impossible to catalogue them all. With this in mind, his introductory address to the non-specialist reader sounds like an excuse for, as the above reader so succintly stated, shoddy and lazy work. (Historians and students of history will no doubt be amused by the outdated disciplinary platitudes introducing each chapter.)

1-0 out of 5 stars This terrible piece of work is a big miss
I feel a little strange writing a review of this book, as I got it as a present and feel that holiday pleasure-reads should not require academic work.However, the other reviews are so glowingly positive that a contrary view needs to be presented, to point out the book's many flaws.I actually came to the review section to laugh along at the other critical reviews of this book that I was sure would exist.
I found the arguments in this book to be lazy, poorly substantiated, and inconsistent. He makes flippant statements about 700 years of history, explains how his two points (geography of Russian territory and autocratic nature of Russian state) explain how history unfolded, and say that the result is a unique victory for the Russian tradition over European Imperialism.He points out that if Russia were really a part of Europe, it would look a lot more like Sweden. But it doesn't, so this is proof that Russia has a historical developent outside of the European tradition.Meanwhile, autocracy is behind the success of Russia, because it has remained independent since the 1600's, and other countries were not able to withstand the challenge posed by European imperialism - autocracy must have been the reason for that.He neglects to mention that Russia is the largest country in Europe and had a population much greater than any of the other empires there, and that its military sucesses relied on adopting European technology and administrative methods, and that it's military defeats throughout the last 70 years of its existence were probably avoidable.He never also explains how other nations that had roots outside of the European tradition (which I think means the Roman era, but I can't be sure because he doens't state it very clearly) managed to become succesful.All those Vikings he talks about early in the book...how did they end up as Scandinavian kingdoms, and a member of the Russian community?As with so many things in this book, he brings up elements of history only to discard them when they don't fit into his chosen narrative.
Another example of Poe's confusing reasoning is that the Bolshevik revolution is really a continuation of the Russian "moment in history," yet the revolution caused by the end of the Cold War signals an end to it.Why these revolutions had such conflicting impacts on Russia's role in the world is not explained - we're supposed to just accept these truths to be self-evident.The role of ideology is ignored, and his explanation for popular support of communist government changes from an understanding that autocracy was obsolete, to a belief that property rightfully belonged to all people, to the fact that there wasn't popular support for communism (pg. 75-79) His argument is so simplistic and poorly articulated that I found it really surprising to find it in print.
As for the provocative nature of the book alluded to by other reviewers...Poe's comments reach for bombasticism in their comment about the errors and "mystical politico-religious beliefs" of essentially every other author to write about Russia's relationship with Europe, but his venom is weakly substantiated - again, we're so simply go along with the story he's spinning, without support from such minor details such as critical analysis of facts.
I wish I'd made notes as I read through this, I could have made a note every page or two if I'd bothered to collect every nitwit comment, confusing statement or self-righteous blather in this book.My opposition to this book is not based on my disagreement over certain parts of his argument - I don't disagree with everything he says, and the themes of autocracy and Russian involvement in European affairs are definitely important topics in this subject. It's really the quality of the writing and of the reasoning that irks me.At 140 pages it's a fast read, but not a worthwhile one.I'm fairly confident most people would agree with my analysis of the shabbiness of this work; if you like, read it for yourself and find out.But I'd prefer it if you just didn't ever bother in the first place, because it's a waste of time and money.

First off, the quick and shallow overview of Russian history skips over many facts and developments. The only part of this condensed history that I found decent was the early ethnography of the Slavs, which is also the era of history I'm least familiarwith.Perhaps it's as filled with lazy

5-0 out of 5 stars If half a millennium of Russian history is to be distilled
into a hundred pages of text, one has to have a strong thesis. Poe does: once the Muscovite state collected itself in the sixteenth century, he says, Russia embarked on an alternative path to modernity. Unlike Europe, Russia combined autocracy, "control of the public sphere," state-controlled economy, and "state-sponsored militarism." This mix, moreover, made Russia the only "sustainable society capable of resisting the challenge of Europe." With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the 400-year "Russian moment" ended -- that is, the Russian path to modernity expired, and something else now awaits the country. Much of Poe's general description will not be contested, except by those who consider Russia to be historically a part of Europe. His analysis -- that Russia had no other choice, given its location, lack of resources, and weak society -- will be. If those who disagree can offer a counterargument as compact, vigorous, and accessible as Poe's, the rest of us will greatly benefit.

5-0 out of 5 stars A significant success
Marshall Poe has achieved prominence as one of the finest empiricists studying early modern Russian history. In the current essay, weighing in at a mere one hundred and thirty breezy pages, Poe finds the seeds of the modern Russian crisis in the early modern period he knows so well.It is a fascinating premise which is certain to draw fire from many quarters.But what separates Poe's book from the myriad "explanations" of the demise of the Russian empire is that this meticulously crafted essay is the work of a first-rate (and sometimes brilliant) scholar.Highly recommended. ... Read more

19. Magical Chorus: A History of Russian Culture from Tolstoy to Solzhenitsyn (Vintage)
by Solomon Volkov
Paperback: 368 Pages (2009-03-10)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$9.91
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Asin: 1400077869
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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From the reign of Tsar Nicholas II to the brutal cult of Stalin to the ebullient, uncertain days of perestroika, nowhere has the inextricable relationship between politics and culture been more starkly illustrated than in twentieth-century Russia.

In the first book to fully examine the intricate and often deadly interconnection between Russian rulers and Russian artists, cultural historian Solomon Volkov brings to life the experiences that inspired artists like Tolstoy, Stravinsky, Akhmatova, Nijinsky, Nabokov, and Eisenstein to create some of the greatest masterpieces of our time.

Epic in scope and intimate in detail, The Magical Chorus is the definitive account of a remarkable era in Russia's complex cultural life. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Chudno!
If only something like this book had been available when I studied Russian literature forty years ago, the twentieth century wouldn't have been the great slog that much of it was then. I especially appreciate that art, music and ballet are part of the picture painted of Russian politics and culture. If there still are departments of Slavic Languages that teach 20th century Russian literature, I hope this will be among their textbooks. If not, a blessing on the student who finds this book.

I congratulate the author and thank him profoundly. It's a wonderful book.

4-0 out of 5 stars A song that continues
Surveys of Russian culture date back really to James Billington's "The Icon and the Axe."These books tended to fixate on the glories of the 19th century which include Pushkin, Repin, Tchaikovsky, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy before moving on to the Silver Age and then running out of steam around World War II.This was more a fault of the authorities who presented the world with a mummified high culture (designed to raise hard currency), a suppressed underground culture of dissidents, and a banal popular culture.To complicate matters, there was an interesting, but also bizarre emigre culture (think of Nabokov for the first and the movie Liquid Sky for the latter).

One of the outgrowths of the fall of the Soviet Union and the passage of time is insight into the rest of the story and what a complex story it is.From the vantage point of the 21st century, 30th century Russian culture is a complex organism indeed.Be it the role of the intellectuals that Lenin exiled in the 1920s, attempts to re-imagine Russian culture in the aftermath of World War II, the comings and goings of the intellectual firmament during the sixties and seventies are all interesting topics.Even more fascinating is what happened to the cultural life of the Soviet Union when the country whose impulses it was meant to reflect ceased to exist.

Solomon Volkov is well equipped to chronicle the comings and goings of this world.He was part of it in some respects and as a leading musicologist, biographers of Shostakovich, and author of half a dozen books on Russian topics.He even knew most of the figures depicted in the last third of the book.In many respects the book provides a great deal of commentary tracing the evolution of Russian culture under a variety of circumstances including decline, revolution, civil war, tyranny, foreign invasion, destruction, political comings and goings, stagnation, repression, and finally the greatest challenge, freedom.

I did like the book's attempt to show continuity within Russian culture through the 20th century, literally from the death of Tolstoy to the return and death of Solzhenitsyn.In this respect the book is an improvement over numerous books which speculate with very little understanding on the internal dynamics of Russia.

If I were to identify a flaw it is almost that the story Volkov is attempting to tell is too big for a book of under 300 pages.Really I think some of the issues Volkov raises really need more space for greater development. The controversy between "the town" and the village (think "blue state Russia" and "red state Russia") really deserves more space than Volkov is able to provide it. Is there a relationship between these two schools and the old westernizer and slavophile dichotomy? The career of Eduard Liminov who can be said to have had a foot in both camps is an example. Starting life as the son of a KGB official, living in exile as a dissident in New York in the 1970s (and the author of a book that was almost like the "Fear of Flying" of the emigre community) and then the leader of a crazy Neo-Bolshevik fascist organization and arrested on fire arms charges.Since this is only one of the stories chronicled in the book I can only add that reading it was at times it is almost like drinking from a fire hose.

Another flaw with the book is in its illustrations. Yes it was nice to see pictures of all the artists, writers, and composers, but pictures of the paintings Volkov choses to discuss would have been even better.

Despite the flaws inherent in attempting to tackle such a broad topic in such a very little space, I encourage anyone interested in Russian culture to read Volkov's latest effort.Despite its shortcomings this book represents an important contribution to the understanding of 20th century Russia's difficult story.

5-0 out of 5 stars A magical chorus is a magical book...
This book was a wonderful read, not just about the major artistic figures--and they are all here, Tolstoy, Akmatova, Shostikovich, Gorky, Chekhov--but also the views that Lenin, Stalin and other leaders took toward the arts.This is especially so of Stalin: and the author does not hesitate to discuss Stalin's interest in the arts, his intelligence, and his love for the Russian classics.I also enjoyed reading about Pasternak's own fascination with Stalin.In the end, I gained a better understanding of the "soul" of Russian artistic genius, and an appreciation for its survival during difficult, disastrous years.

4-0 out of 5 stars The twining of politics and art
In Russia, it has been said, "a poet is much more than a poet" (Pushkin), and "a great writer is like a second government" (Solzhenitsyn). Indeed, in few countries is culture so intertwined with politics. Particularly during the last century, when art (be it film, literature, music or painting) was unceremoniously dragooned into the service of the State.

How Russian politics and culture battled during the 20th century is the subject of Solomon Volkov's fine new book, a volume that is part memoir, part history, part rumination on the Russian worldview. Sprinkled liberally with first-hand accounts (many of the author himself), it brings to light fascinating episodes, from the various Nobel Prize scandals, to the real roots of the Thaw (American films, perhaps?), to bards like Vysotsky and Okudzhava, made popular by official scorn.

Through it, there is a sense of continuity, of politicians hopelessly trying to reign in culture, to dictate what shall be proper and sanctioned, of artists giving a nod to the Powers That Be, then quietly writing "for the drawer" or singing subversive songs for friends.

In one episode, Volkov tells of the buses full of riot police, hunkered down outside the Taganka Theater during Vysotsky's wake there in 1980. It brought to mind more recent deployments of excessive OMON legions against a miserly collection of liberals and oppositionists. In Russia, after all, a demonstrator is much more than a demonstrator. (Reviewed in Russian Life)

5-0 out of 5 stars Volkov magic!
The Magical Chorus is not only a fierce and fearsome look at a century and a half of Russian history, but a tantalizing journey behind the appearances of history, with insight only Solomon Volkov can forge. Volkov stalks his books stealthily page by page until capture; the hunt always excites and invigorates, and reveals essences. Magical Chorus is no exception to the wiles of an author who for whatever reason remains oddly controversial. For me, he's a master writer. Brilliance mesmerizes around the lightest details of Russian cultural life, as Volkov's passions become ours. Magical Chorus languored about too long for me until the middle 'A Rendevous With Stalin', where ignites the connection to the book's real and entrancing heart - the Russian mystery of mirrors between her rulers and artists. After that, Volkov takes off. Uncle Joe's moral tics, and Stalinism itself, are dissected like a surgeon; Akhmatova (noting she died thirteen years to the day after Stalin), Yevtushenko, sympathetic stories of Prokofiev and Mayakovsky. Volkov's empathy never impedes his duty as a writer. The best thing about reading him is he never gives you reason to tire. This is a first rate keeper that harbors a blistering study of tragedy. ... Read more

20. The Routledge Atlas of Russian History (Routledge Historical Atlases)
by Martin Gilbert
Paperback: 256 Pages (2007-04-12)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$22.91
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0415394848
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The complex and often turbulent history of Russia over the course of the last 2000 years is brought to life in a series of 177 maps. It covers not only the expansion of Russia wars and its war but also provides a wealth of detail on topics such as its history of famine and anarchism to the growth of its naval strength. From 800 BC through the fall of the Soviet Union to the present day, this indispensable cartographic guide to Russian history covers:
* War and conflict: from the triumph of the Goths between 200 and 400 BC to the defeat of Germany at the end of the Second World War, the end of the Cold War and the war in Chechnya.
* Politics: from the rise of Moscow in the Middle Ages to revolution, the fall of the monarchy and the collapse of communism.
* Industry, economics and transport: from the Trans-Siberian Railway between 1891 and 1917 to the Virgin Lands Campaign and contemporary oil and gas exploitation.
* Society, trade and culture: from peasant discontent and labor camps (gulags) to the geographical distribution of ethnic Russians and the Russian arms trade. ... Read more

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