Russia: The Wild East 'The Rise and Fall of the Soviets' Audio CD – Audiobook, 4 Aug 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
The five cds comprise: 1 The Rise of the Bolsheviks; 2 Stalin's Iron Fist; 3 War and (uncertain) Peace; 4 Cold War; 5 Collapse.
Sixsmith, an experienced correspondent and 'Russia watcher' for the BBC in the 80's and 90's, as well as a civil servant Director of Communications for Downing Street in the early 2000s, has written and presented a fascinating, if inevitably highly abbreviated account of this complex subject. (He was reputedly 'gagged' by the government following the Jo Moore/Steven Byers debacle in 2001 and unable to present his version of events in book form. Clearly he knows something of the machinations and manipulations in the corridors of power!) He has written extensively on the Soviet Union and Russia. He has a good voice for radio, writes well for that medium, and has his account interspersed with archive recordings, personal testimony and readings by actors from authors relevant to the various segments. This range of material and voices together with Russian musical extracts further add variety so that this is never a tedious listen.
I am not an expert on Russia: I do not doubt that there will be many who might challenge Sixsmith's interpretations of some of the political events and personalities on which he comments.Read more ›
Firstly Sixsmith has a very easy manner and is both easy to listen to and knowledgable on the subject - two key elements in making this work. He maintains an interest in what he says and allows the reader to become involved as well which is key to this as he covers a tremendous amount of Russian/Soviet history in a relatively short amount of time and does it with an ease rivalled only by the best audio-books I've listened to (Stephen Fry's Harry Potter and Rob Inglis' Lord of the Rings).
The collection comprises of 5 CDs:
1 - Rise of the Bolsheviks
2 - Stalin's Iron Fist
3 - War and Peace
4 - Cold War
5 - Collapse
These cover a huge amount of histoy in a relatively short period and in doing so provide a decent overview of the events and touches on many of the key points during these periods, however, due to the need to cover so much in so short a time, he often misses the intericate nuances which are fundamental to really understanding this period of Russian/Soviet history.
In addition to the superficial nature of the history, it is also skewed quite considerably by the interpretations of Sixsmith who, having been present in the Soviet Union during its collapse, struggles to go beyond his own perceptions at times. Whilst this may make for suitable radio, I felt it was too influential in the portayal of events and whilst historians cannot be totally objective, it strayed too often into wholly subjective analyse.Read more ›
Sixsmith moves quickly through revolution, Bolshevism, Stalinism, world war, and eventually to Gorbachev and Putin. It is a history punctuated by ambition, power and death on a huge scale, which Sixsmith tells with passion, often aided by actors who read translations of notable speeches and declarations. It is further enhanced by interspersed sound effects and archive recordings that help to conjure up the mood of the time.
Sixsmith tries to be impartial in his narration, but the history he recounts is often so dark and terrible that his voice tends to come down upon events in pithy style, painting the villains as they deserve, and telling of heroics on all sides with equal engagement. At times the whole thing is so intense and tragic that it is hard to listen to. He spares us little in the telling as he covers each regime, with their high ideals and monstrous outcomes, their policies, purges, fanatical loyalties and impossible expectations, show trials, lost causes and executions. Sixsmith changes up a gear when he reaches the period that he reported upon personally. From the Gorbachev and Yeltsin years onward, he reflects upon the times and the men in question with greater fluidity, especially during the final CD of the set. He met many of these figures, of course, and had a better understanding of their views and the societies and people on which they tried their policies.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hope to find this as good as Part one when I get to listen to it asap. Thanks to Martin SixsmithPublished on 30 Mar. 2014 by A. P. Reeves
Stunning achievment by Martin Sixsmith - I was riveted and listened to this while on holiday in Russia which made it even more special.Published on 15 April 2013 by Lotli
Martin Sixsmith worked as a foreign correspondent for the BBC for some 17 years during which time he reported Moscow at the time of the end of the Cold War, and clearly has a very... Read morePublished on 20 Sept. 2012 by Philip Mayo
Upon receiving this I started to wonder just how interesting five CDs of Russian history would be; I knew my Soviet history well enough that I did not expect this Radio 4 series to... Read morePublished on 9 Sept. 2012 by G. Wake
Why depressing? Because Martin Sixsmith's engrossing history charts a nation's cruelty to its own people, the repetitious, grinding ideologically enforced poverty that forces the... Read morePublished on 20 April 2012 by Stuart Burns
Let me start by saying the main reason I have not given this audio set 5 stars, is simply because I would have liked to have heard more of other people's opinions on events. Read morePublished on 30 Mar. 2012 by Prof TBun
Audio books are a new field to me, and I was pleasantly surprised by this 'title' - although it being a BBC production I shouldn't have been. Read morePublished on 13 Mar. 2012 by George Rodger
Just to make sure you're looking at the right collection (this Part Two!), this collection of 5 CDs comprises of:
1 - Rise of the Bolsheviks. 2 - Stalin's Iron Fist. Read more