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Empire: The Russian Empire and Its Rivals Hardcover – 7 Sep 2000

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 527 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; First Edition edition (7 Sept. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719552435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719552434
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 661,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Book Description

This text explores the role of empire in world history, addressing questions such as: what does it mean to be an empire?, how does one empire differ from another?, why does an empire rise and why fall, and why have empires flourished in some eras and regions of the world but not in others?

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Antonio on 9 Jan. 2002
Format: Hardcover
Dominic Lieven, the historian of Imperial Russia has written a long book on a big subject. In spite of the broad title ("Empire"), the book, as suggested by the sub-title, is really a comparison between modern continental European empires (Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Soviet) and a modern Atlantic Empire (British). He also makes a couple of stabs at the Chinese empire, although wisely steers away from making many points about this subject, which is likely to suck in the unwary. He does not attempt a definition of empire as such, and while acknowledging the socio-geographical school of thought (pioneered by Montesquieu and currently incarnated in Huntington), largely steers clear of "German-philosophy-type-First-Principles" and such. This is a relief, because he has much to say just looking at actual facts. Although he concludes that, after the (probably terminal) eclipse of France as a continental great power after the First Empire, the real competition is between Germany and Russia, and that when one is in the ascendant (as was Germany in 1871-1945 and since 1990) the other one is in the relapse (Russia was ascendant between the Vienna Congress and the creation of the German Reich). While intuitively appealing, Lieven does not say enough about Germany proper (the "Drang Nach Osten", for example) to support this contention, given that his focus is on the Southern part of cultural Germany, the Austro-Hungarian empire.Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dr. S. N. Travis on 1 Oct. 2001
Format: Hardcover
Lieven's work is high in erudition, lively and interesting. His subject is vast, which is both its strength and its weakness; however, it would be churlish to criticize his necessary brevity in some areas unduly, given he has acted to whet the appetite of the reader to find out more.
He attempts to draw comparisons between various empires, in order to see whether there can be any historically-useful conclusions to be drawn. This is an enormous task so, after an introductory discussion that is wide-ranging both temporally and geographically, he finally settles on his subject.
His main interest is Russia, as one might expect from the scion of displaced Russian nobility, and it is the Russian and Soviet empires which are the main focus of his work. The empires which he choses for comparison are the British, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian. The time period chosen for the most detailed examination consists mainly of the last three hundred years.
Despite bypassing with minimal discussion such other empires for consideration as those of Rome, China, France and Holland, Lieven shows mastery of his subject and draws some intersting conclusions. I certainly learned many interesting facts, partuclarly of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, which are probably less well known to the average person.
Overall I was left with a grudging fondness for the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburgs, whose pan-cultural and pan-linguistic empire shared certain charactersitics with a proto-EU, and some pangs of what might have been had not a certain Serbian assassin struck in 1914.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kesha L Tanabe on 20 Nov. 2001
Format: Hardcover
do not be intimidated by the hefty girth of this book! lieven puts forth a very interesting description of the ways in which the practice of empire has developed, taking on new meanings in different cultures and time periods. this book is a interesting survey of international relations theory mixed with an impeccable knowledge of european, asian, russian, and islamic history. whether you aim to brush up your history or familiarize yourself with the many meanings of the word 'empire', this book will be both useful and enjoyable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Within an inch of truth 30 Dec. 2001
By Milos Tomin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Lieven's book is a rare animal among the industry of histories explaining Russia and post-Soviet Russia. By putting his main subject within a historical span of several thousand years through including chapters on China and Rome, Lieven throws light on some universal aspects which were common to all empires and those that were unique.
That said this book tells more about traditional land based empires (Russia, China, Rome) than examples of emporocratic ones like Britain and Netherlands in the broadest sense. Chapters on "After Empire" show the legacy of Soviet policy towards minority nations and why they failed, this is also interesting in view of break up of communist Yugoslavia which is commented upon in several chapters. Lieven also makes interesting comparisons between Ottoman and Austrohungarian empires.
As an overview of what makes an empire an "Empire" and how this idea relates to current European political trends this book is indispensable. Suggested as supplement reading of a thorough historical analysis from an altogether different perspective on imperial idea is Julius Evola's Revolt Against the Modern World.
9 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Hits and Misses in History Writing 28 Aug. 2001
By Ralph Schwegman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If history writing is facts, dates, figures, this book is a winner. It contains a sufficient number of insights to make it a useful history. But it is more pedestrian in analysis, surprisingly self-referential in its style (and perhaps the style of thinking,)and turgid in organization, jumping backwards and forwards in time and topic. Its writing style is tedious, plodding, unimaginative, clumsy, almost as if Lieven were writing in a language other than his own. That begins on page vii of the Preface when the author says about himself, "the historian found little difficulty orientating (sic) himself." Where was his editor? Where were John Murray or Yale University Press? Where was his English teacher? I'd be glad to compare editing notes in gruesome detail.
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