on 6 July 2011
I heard the Radio 4 broadcaasts of most of these 15 minute blocks of brilliant retellings- with music, explaining where Russia's history is different from ours! I found it fascinating and can't wait for the next episodes on R4 starting next week! No sentimentality, just the facts, man! Sixsmith is a brilliant story teller and the discs are easier on the wrists than the heavyweight book edition! The opresentation is immaculate: no previous knowledge is required, no knowledgee of Russian language - though a little may help! To leaven what might have been a heavy load, there are the tempting bits of Russian music - Tchaikovsky. Shostakovich, Glinka, excuse me etcetera(!) to tease the ear. Could it have been done better? I doubt it! Slava! Slava!
on 29 August 2011
This Cds are really worth every penny you paid for them. The creator of the series is passionate, well-informed and keeps the listeners interested until the end of each part which is only 15 min. long. He does not intend to exhaust the topic but to open it to further reading on each specific period of Russian history. I preferred the Cds as I usually read a lot yet I do not devote much time to the radio as I would like, moreover, it is perfect if you are looking for a taster in the subject and become informed about this massive and culturally diverse country. Very much recommended.
on 13 December 2013
There are not many radio series that change your life, but this one did for me. I listened with curiosity and a general interest in history when these programmes were first broadcast on the BBC. Sixsmith, former BBC correspondent in the USSR (now Russia) takes the listener on a journey through Russian history, from the earliest days of Kievan Rus, to the fall of Tsar Nicholas II. His theme is the way in which autocracy has somehow always been the default mode of Russian government, resulting form the Mongol occupation of early times. He is fascinating on Ivan the Terrible (and the links to Stalin), on Peter the Great, and Catherine the Great too. He explains the split in Russian consciousness and identity between East and West, and her tendency to always return to an autocratic norm.
For me these broadcasts fired an interest in, and enthusiasm for, Russian history that has carried me through at least a dozen more books and still continues now. There is, of course, a second series of CDs that were broadcast later, all about the Soviet years and their collapse with Gorbachev, Yeltsin and now Putin. Both sets are superb.
If you have an interest in history and particularly in Russian history, these CDs are unsurpassed; I have listened to them many times, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Perhaps you'll get hooked too.
on 6 February 2012
I caught a couple of episodes of this series when it was first broadcast and thought they were excellent; well researched and narrated, with good use of music. Having bought the whole series, I now think that it is essential listening for anyone in the least interested in Russian history, as well as being a great introduction for those who know nothing of the subject. The 15 minute length of each part makes them easy to digest. Very highly recommended.
on 29 April 2015
This was bought on spec as I hadn't previously caught the broadcast by the BBC, however I thought I'd chance it as I'm an immense fan of the BBC's 'Sceptred Isle' series & their three collaborations with Neil MacGregor of the British Museum. This presentation is right up there with the BBC's finest and is recommended to all those with an interest in history. It provides an interesting overview of 'Russian' history & an insight into 'Russian' political development (of which there has been, apparently, very little). Martin Sixsmith is a mellifluous presenter and speaks from a position of some authority having studied then resided in Russia for several years.
on 7 June 2014
This was a gift for a History teacher who is teaching Russian history as part of an A-level syllabus. He has been delighted with it, listening to it in the car on his commute, and says it is a great way to reinforce things and a break from always reading material. He particularly likes the richness and detail, and also the way it means he hears native pronunciation of names and Russian words. He liked it so much he ordered the second set of discs that follow on for this for himself.