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A History of Russia [Paperback]

Nicholas Riasanovsky , Mark Steinberg
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 46.36 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

April 2010
Now completely revised in this eighth edition, A History of Russia covers the entire span of the country's history, from ancient times to the post-communist present. Keeping with the hallmark of the text, Riasanovsky and Steinberg examine all aspects of Russia's history--political, international, military, economic, social, and cultural--with a commitment to objectivity, fairness, and balance, and to reflecting recent research and new trends in scholarly interpretation. New chapters on politics, society, and culture since 1991 explore Russia's complex experience after communism and discuss its chances of becoming a more stable and prosperous country in the future. Widely acclaimed as the best one-volume history available, A History of Russia is also available in two split volumes--the first covers early Russia through the nineteenth century and the second ranges from 1855 to the present. Volume II features an additional introductory chapter that links Russia's modern history to the events that preceded it. New to this Edition: * Greater attention to social and cultural history * Updated to cover the Putin and Medvedev administrations * Increased coverage of women and everyday life * Expanded treatment of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century * Completely redesigned maps with new full-color reference maps

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Product details

  • Paperback: 792 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA; Eighth edition edition (April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019534197X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195341973
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.5 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 152,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A History of Russia is one of the best, if not the best, one-volume texts of Russian history from Kievan times to the present. It does an exceptionally effective job of synthesizing a basic (yet always interesting and stimulating) narrative of Russian/Eurasian history with an introduction to historiographical debates about the major scholarly issues, showing how scholarship on certain issues has evolved over time. Generations of students have profited remarkably from this book. It is both a wonderful teaching tool and a useful reference book for scholars."--Glennys Young, University of Washington

About the Author

Nicholas Riasanovsky is Professor Emeritus of History the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of several books, including A Parting of Ways: Government and the Educated Public in Russia: 1801-1855 (1976) and The Image of Peter the Great in Russian History and Thought (OUP, 1985). Mark Steinberg is Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Specializing in the cultural, intellectual, and social history of Russia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, his many books include Voices of Revolution, 1917 (2001) and ProletarianImagination: Self, Modernity, and the Sacred in Russia, 1910-1925 (2002). Since 2006, he has been editor of the journal Slavic Review.

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First Sentence
THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE, and later the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, represented a land mass of over eight and one-half million square miles, an area larger than the entire North American continent. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent First Text 30 Nov 2002
Format:Hardcover
For those interested in Russia and its past, this is not a bad place to start. It is as comprehensive as a 600 page volume can be. I read the Fourth Edition, so am glad to hear that it has been updated at least to the Gorbochov era. Riasanovsky is particularly adroit at representing early Russian history, with vivid accounts of the numerous invasions (Mongols, Vikings, Tatars, Teutons, etc.). After reading this book, one cannot help but understand the national paranoia and xenophobia that has been so much a part of Russian policy and posture throughout so much of its history. It also becomes clearer why Russia has historically needed a central "father" or "mother" figure to guide it through its tumultuous periods.
Some may argue that Riasanovsky is indeed somewhat biased, but certainly no more than the typical American historian writing about US History. He gives more than equal blame, for instance, to Nicholas I for getting his country involved in the Crimean War. He certainly never acts as an apologist for any of the Russian rulers at any stage, though his admiration for Peter the Great and Catherine can't be denied.
Poles, Ukranians, Lithuanians, etc. are not going to be won over by this book, but it is to the author's credit that the reader understands why they wont be. But winning anyone's approval is hardly Riasnovsky's object. He's primarily trying to tell the story of a people, and he succeeds on that level, quite brilliantly. The story he tells is complex and fascinating, to say the least. So many colorful and unforgettable characters advanced across Russia's historical stage, that any other country would be hard put to come up with such a cast or a saga.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  34 reviews
52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid history textbook - 4.5 stars 6 July 2004
By Mr. Frodo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I couldn't help but address the comments of the reader that gave this work 1 star. It's interesting that he cites the territories annexed by Russia as Chinese / Japanese / etc. Where do you think Japan / China / etc. got those territories? Did he ever stop to think that at one point in time Japan, China, and any other country didn't have statehood, and the latter is always achieved through a painful process of unification by both doplomatic and military means? If same logic of denying a country its legitimacy based on forceful means of expansion is used consistently, then our great country of the USA should also be considered an illegitimate occupant of native American lands. Please let us adhere to commonly accepted methods of historical research and exposition, instead of expressing one's ill attitude toward a country using flawed reasoning.
The book at hand does indeed present a comprehensive coverage of Russian history, albeit in a somewhat dry fashion. Do not expect to finish this book and be left with crisp and colorful images of Russia's history. But what you can expect is a comprehensive coverage of every period of Russian history, complete with dates, names, and places. After a once-over, this book can be used as a reference, or a refresher on a particular timeframe in the history of the country. I am still looking for a more captivating work on Russian history, so anyone knows of any - please recommend.
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Thorough, No-Frills Text 15 Aug 2002
By ransome22 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Do not expect gripping dramatic prose from this detailed history. This is an adequate text and reference but not likely suited for the information-seeking, recreational reader. Despite studying international relations for several years, my knowledge of Russian history exhibited glaring weaknesses. Riasanovsky's work continued to appear as I researched texts with which to fortify my deficiencies. All indications show it to be a classic work of Russian history, used in university courses for decades, and perhaps the most detailed one-volume work suited for a general audience. I found "A History of Russia" (Sixth Edition) to be informative, detailed, and faithfully updated (now encapsulating the fall of the Soviet Union and Russia under Yeltsin). Although a solid text, it is a difficult tome to conquer cover-to-cover as it fails to capture the literary senses of the reader.
Riasanovsky takes the reader mechanically through the development of the Russian state. He begins with the geopolitical landscape as it existed prior to the Russians then examines in detail the flowering of Kiev, the appanage system, and the Muscovite, imperialist, revolutionary, and Soviet eras. Riasanovsky's painstaking attention to detail and thorough familiarity with other historiographies provide the reader with a comprehensive evolutionary picture. For example, his illustration of the early appanage system and the continuation of class disparities well into the 20th century shed ample light on the fertile ground into which Vladimir Lenin was able to sow the communist theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. His verbal portraits of leaders such as Ivan the Terrible and Catherine the Great give meaningful context to the power struggles and political imbroglios which characterized specific reigns. The addenda which have accompanied each new edition are less detailed and necessarily superficial. They provide sufficient material to update the reader on Russia's current state of affairs but beg for additional research by the more serious student.
79 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Overview 20 Sep 2000
By Bruce Kendall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For those interested in Russia and its past, this is not a bad place to start. It is as comprehensive as a 600 page volume can be. I read the Fourth Edition, so am glad to hear that it has been updated at least to the Gorbochov era. Riasanovsky is particularly adroit at representing early Russian history, with vivid accounts of the numerous invasions (Mongols, Vikings, Tatars, Teutons, etc.). After reading this book, one cannot help but understand the national paranoia and xenophobia that has been so much a part of Russian policy and posture throughout so much of its history. It also becomes clearer why Russia has historically needed a central "father" or "mother" figure to guide it through its tumultuous periods.
As to a reader's criticism, Riasanovsky is indeed somewhat biased, but certainly no more than the typical American historian writing about US History. He gives more than equal blame, for instance, to Nicholas II for getting his country involved in the Crimean War. He certainly never acts as an apologist for any of the Russian rulers at any stage, though his admiration for Peter the Great and Catherine can't be denied.
Poles, Ukranians, Lithuanians, etc. are not going to be won over by this book, but it is to the author's credit that the reader understands why they wont be. But winning anyone's approval is hardly Riasnovsky's object. He's primarily trying to tell the story of a people, and he succeeds on that level, quite brilliantly. The story he tells is complex and fascinating, to say the least. So many colorful and unforgettable characters advanced across Russia's historical stage, that any other country would be hard put to come up with such a cast or a saga.
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This history is a necessary read 1 April 2003
By "vasilisa4" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I just read a "one star review" of this book, and it galled me. So I write this.
This book is a STANDARD history of Russia, used by many, including my, college courses on the subject. It is generally considered a classic.
If you want, or profess, to understand Russian history, this book is a must. Absolutely. First rate. NO, not without the author's personal imput.
But what book is without that imput? NONE.
Buy it, read it, and try to understand. Yes, read others, but read this first.
THIS IS THE STANDARD TEXT.
Take care and God bless your endeavors.
41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-read 4 Aug 2004
By Christian Moulton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
1. If you consider yourself interested in Russian history in more than a casual way, this book is for you. It is an academic work, meaning that it wasn't written in the novelistic style that many history books are written in these days.

2. Riasanovsky makes you aware of any significant debate that may exist on a topic, citing names of authors and explaining, for example, when they are Soviet school or not, so that you can understand any potential bias.

3. Even if you don't want to read the whole thing straight off, this book is compartmentalized well, so that you should find some kind of reference to the section that you're interested in. My struggle has always been that I want to have a place that I can go and find out what the GOOD stuff to read on a subject is; each chapter has a substantial bibliography, so Riasanovsky empowers you to go further with any subject.

4. Some clarification on Riasanovsky's "bias": He is definitely critical of imperial Russia. Read the section on Nicholas I, for example. However, you can kind of sense that he's rooting for Russian expansion, growth, etc. and lamenting any setbacks in Russia's glory, but this is not overt, and I do not believe he covers anything up.

5. I wish he'd been a little harder on Lenin. His comes off like one of the most tragic deaths in Russian history, and we don't really get a sense of the scumbag that he was. Yeah, Stalin is an easy act to precede, but come on...
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