Once past the Introduction, which is so laden with copious details of the lurid opulence of the coronation of Nicholas II and Alexandra that the effect is almost soporific, this is a marvelous history of Russia's immense cultural heritage. For a single-volume history of an epic thousand years, it's rich with nugget after nugget of genuine scholarship and understanding about a seemingly infinite panoply of artistic riches. Lincoln not only covers all the arts- architecture, painting, music, literature (his revelations of Gogol are alone worth the price of the volume!), he exquisitely realises an integration of his subject into a fine general history of Russia. Catherine the Great is given rather short shrift, not much meat there, but the chapters on the Romantic period and the rise of Realism are fascinating and meticulous crafted. This is history writing Richard Pipes can only dream of- readable, deep, authentic, and beautifully attuned to genuine literary merit. I recommend this book to anyone interested in a comprehensive history of Russian arts. It's intelligent, beautifully paced, and not burdened by unnecessary digression. Russiaholics, of course, will eat it up!