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Russia and the Russians: A History

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From the Carpathians in the west to the Greater Khingan range in the east, a huge, flat expanse dominates the Eurasian continent. Here, over more than a thousand years, the history and destiny of Russia have unfolded. In a sweeping narrative, one of the English-speaking world's leading historians of Russia follows this story from the first emergence of the Slavs in the his From the Carpathians in the west to the Greater Khingan range in the east, a huge, flat expanse dominates the Eurasian continent. Here, over more than a thousand years, the history and destiny of Russia have unfolded. In a sweeping narrative, one of the English-speaking world's leading historians of Russia follows this story from the first emergence of the Slavs in the historical record in the sixth century C.E. to the Russians' persistent appearances in today's headlines. Hosking's is a monumental story of competing legacies, of an enormous power uneasily balanced between the ideas and realities of Asian empire, European culture, and Byzantine religion; of a constantly shifting identity, from Kievan Rus to Muscovy to Russian Empire to Soviet Union to Russian Federation, and of Tsars and leaders struggling to articulate that identity over the centuries. With particular attention to non-Russian regions and ethnic groups and to Russia's relations with neighboring polities, Hosking lays out the links between political, economic, social, and cultural phenomena that have made Russia what it is--a world at once familiar and mysterious to Western observers. In a clear and engaging style, he conducts us through the Mongol invasions, the rise of autocracy, the reigns of Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, the battle against Napoleon, the emancipation of the serfs, the Crimean War, the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalin's reign of terror, the two World Wars, the end of the USSR, to today's war against Chechnya. Hosking's history is shot through with the understanding that becoming an empire has prevented Russia from becoming a nation and has perpetuated archaic personal forms of power. This book is the most penetrating and comprehensive account yet of what such a legacy has meant--to Russia, and to the world.


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From the Carpathians in the west to the Greater Khingan range in the east, a huge, flat expanse dominates the Eurasian continent. Here, over more than a thousand years, the history and destiny of Russia have unfolded. In a sweeping narrative, one of the English-speaking world's leading historians of Russia follows this story from the first emergence of the Slavs in the his From the Carpathians in the west to the Greater Khingan range in the east, a huge, flat expanse dominates the Eurasian continent. Here, over more than a thousand years, the history and destiny of Russia have unfolded. In a sweeping narrative, one of the English-speaking world's leading historians of Russia follows this story from the first emergence of the Slavs in the historical record in the sixth century C.E. to the Russians' persistent appearances in today's headlines. Hosking's is a monumental story of competing legacies, of an enormous power uneasily balanced between the ideas and realities of Asian empire, European culture, and Byzantine religion; of a constantly shifting identity, from Kievan Rus to Muscovy to Russian Empire to Soviet Union to Russian Federation, and of Tsars and leaders struggling to articulate that identity over the centuries. With particular attention to non-Russian regions and ethnic groups and to Russia's relations with neighboring polities, Hosking lays out the links between political, economic, social, and cultural phenomena that have made Russia what it is--a world at once familiar and mysterious to Western observers. In a clear and engaging style, he conducts us through the Mongol invasions, the rise of autocracy, the reigns of Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, the battle against Napoleon, the emancipation of the serfs, the Crimean War, the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalin's reign of terror, the two World Wars, the end of the USSR, to today's war against Chechnya. Hosking's history is shot through with the understanding that becoming an empire has prevented Russia from becoming a nation and has perpetuated archaic personal forms of power. This book is the most penetrating and comprehensive account yet of what such a legacy has meant--to Russia, and to the world.

30 review for Russia and the Russians: A History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    Interesting and easy to read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Grant

    Not having read any other book devoted to the history of the Russian people and having only a 6th grade "world history" knowledge of the country before I came to this book, I think this book is a very good place to start if you are interested in the country and its people. It is in depth, but is not so academic that it is a challenging read. Not counting the index and timeline, it clocks in at just above 600 pages. That is remarkable considering it covers roughly the timeline of 500 - 2001. The Not having read any other book devoted to the history of the Russian people and having only a 6th grade "world history" knowledge of the country before I came to this book, I think this book is a very good place to start if you are interested in the country and its people. It is in depth, but is not so academic that it is a challenging read. Not counting the index and timeline, it clocks in at just above 600 pages. That is remarkable considering it covers roughly the timeline of 500 - 2001. The author has found subjects and characteristics which he believes not only remain a constant through Russia's history, but also help to explain its people. Whether this is true or not I do not know, but I think it helps to ground the reader in a foreign subject. That said I have some complaints. First, I think there should have been a family tree of czars and a short 4 or 6 sentence bio of significant persons and cities. The names are so similar that it becomes tedious at times separating them. And second, the author all but skips Catherine the Great, WWI, and races through the Cold War. Granted Hosking has about 600 pages to work within and has to choose certain areas to center on. For the most part I think he chose wisely, however his focus on Catherine is mixed up in his comparisons of later czars to her. Nor does he ever refer to her as "Catherine the Great". For that matter he never calls Ivan the IV "Ivan the Terrible" either. I was annoyed. But I can see why WWI gained little attention when the 1917 revolution was by far a much larger event. But he gives half of the time to the Cold War that he spends on WWII, and the Cold War about 50 years longer. Still a good read and a solid foundation in Russian history

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andrewh

    This is a thematic history of the various attempts by Tsars to reconcile the large gap between Russia (the imperial state) and Russians (the people, or peoples more accurately). The book 's underlying argument is that Tsarist reforms over time, from the 16c onwards, aimed to create a more modern nation (and a sense of Russian nationhood), in the image to some degree of successful Western European states such as France or, more latterly, Germany, in order that the Russian autocracy could maintain This is a thematic history of the various attempts by Tsars to reconcile the large gap between Russia (the imperial state) and Russians (the people, or peoples more accurately). The book 's underlying argument is that Tsarist reforms over time, from the 16c onwards, aimed to create a more modern nation (and a sense of Russian nationhood), in the image to some degree of successful Western European states such as France or, more latterly, Germany, in order that the Russian autocracy could maintain its sacred mission as the upholder of true Christian values. Such a process was doomed, almost by definition, by the autocratic Tsarist system itself, and the underlying massive inequality of society, personified by the quasi-slavery of serfdom, which was only abolished in the mid-19C (about the same time that the US fought a war over slavery, by coincidence). This backward system ensured low production, and prevented much industrial development, and consequently the spread of education (itself an integral factor in the spread of national consciousness in the form of newspapers). In the 19th C, this creaking system started to break down as various social groups demanded more rights, including land and some form of representation, and eventually, almost inevitably, this led to revolution and the end of autocratic rule - first in 1905, then (twice) in 1917, with the abdication of the Tsar and then, after the Provisional Government had assumed power, with the rise of the workers' Soviets and the Bolshevik coup. In the conclusion, written in the early 1990s, the author ponders whether post-communist Russia (then under Yeltsin) would be able to become a modern nation-state and reconcile these same issues between the imperial nature of the Russian state and the demands of the people - in 2018, the same questions can still be asked, as Putin embarks on the same diversionary foreign policy tactics often favoured by his autocratic forebears. The book covers 400 years of turbulent and fascinating Russian history, so it does float somewhat over the details of history, but it reads well and is almost never boring (though I could have benefited from a glossary of Russian terms, rather than the repeated use of Russian terms in the text). My ebook version was let down by some substandard proofing (e.g. 'li' was always shown as 'U', so we have 'Russian Uves' not 'lives' etc), but otherwise, I would recommend.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Tolusso

    Great survey of Russian history. I appreciate that it focused so much on questions of state-building, nationalism and arts & culture. I was less interested in the parts about religion, but I suppose they're part of a well-rounded overview. I especially liked discussion of the communist period policies, and it was funny to see policy makers loosen communism during a crisis, but lack the self-awareness needed to keep the reforms that worked. The one major improvement would be a glossary of the russ Great survey of Russian history. I appreciate that it focused so much on questions of state-building, nationalism and arts & culture. I was less interested in the parts about religion, but I suppose they're part of a well-rounded overview. I especially liked discussion of the communist period policies, and it was funny to see policy makers loosen communism during a crisis, but lack the self-awareness needed to keep the reforms that worked. The one major improvement would be a glossary of the russian terms that are used, as I found myself forgetting them and having to go to the index to find the first page they were used on.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    Though I'm only fifty pages in, I can say this much thus far: it's written beautifully, something perfect for me since I hit a wall with non-fiction a couple of months ago. Academic writing can really be a drag, no wonder I needed a break. The historian packs a lot of detail in, too, but he does it deftly, without bogging the reader down. I'm not sure what exactly it is some other historians do that makes reading their books feel like I'm slogging through wet cement, but I wish more wrote like th Though I'm only fifty pages in, I can say this much thus far: it's written beautifully, something perfect for me since I hit a wall with non-fiction a couple of months ago. Academic writing can really be a drag, no wonder I needed a break. The historian packs a lot of detail in, too, but he does it deftly, without bogging the reader down. I'm not sure what exactly it is some other historians do that makes reading their books feel like I'm slogging through wet cement, but I wish more wrote like this guy does.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Canfield

    Russia and the Russians is a sprawling, well-written account of the development of the geographically largest country in the world. It is a balanced work which lays the facts before readers and functions as a guided tour through Russia's storied past. The book has a handful of themes which act as glue to hold the nation’s narrative together, and the foremost of these is the split sense of self Russia has experienced for centuries. The question of whether or not to embrace its European or Asian st Russia and the Russians is a sprawling, well-written account of the development of the geographically largest country in the world. It is a balanced work which lays the facts before readers and functions as a guided tour through Russia's storied past. The book has a handful of themes which act as glue to hold the nation’s narrative together, and the foremost of these is the split sense of self Russia has experienced for centuries. The question of whether or not to embrace its European or Asian steppe heritage pulls the country in differing directions throughout the years. This back and forth is encapsulated by the struggle the Rus people faced when deciding whether or not to embrace an east Slavic Christianity (embodied in the Eastern Orthodox tradition) or draw closer to western European Catholicism. From the time the Vikings intermarried with the Slavs in the 9th century and got the ball rolling on what would become the Rus empire, inquiries along these lines have dogged Russia. The struggle over what it means to be “Russian,” a question some still wrestle with even today, was a thread running through the book. Whether author Geoffrey Hosking was writing about the invasion by the Golden Horde of the Mongols in the 13th century or the divisions between the Republic of Novgorod and Kievan Rus, there is a constant reminder that Russia itself-much less the countries of the former Soviet Union-emerged from a patchwork of cultures and formerly self-governing principalities. “On-ne Nash” is mentioned as the manner in which some Russians distinguish someone as “not one of us," underscoring the insider/outsider viewpoint they have been apt to adopt throughout history. Russia and the Russians shows readers how the rise of Moscow into a powerful player in the world of eastern Christianity was fully realized by the early 1500s. With the collapse of the Byzantium Empire at the hands of the Ottomans, Russia-with the ascendant Moscow in the lead-begins to take on itself the mantle of non-Western Christianity. To hear Hosking tell it, Moscow labeled itself “The New Rome” and gained an inflated sense of its importance. During this century of Russia’s expanding geographical empire, Ivan IV invites in wild raiders known as the Cossacks, a group of people who would make multiple appearances throughout the narrative. The Time of Troubles takes up ample word count and receives a detailed recounting. From 1584 to 1613 the Rus lands went through one upheaval after another, a circumstance owed to internal chaos. According to Hosking, “The tsar was ‘God’s anointed,’ and the state had not become separated from his person.” And it was the installation of a czar in 1613 which helped turn the page on the Time of Troubles. The crowning of Mikhail Romanov as czar in that year would begin a dynasty which would last for the better part of three centuries. Peter I, better known as Peter the Great, was a member of the Romanov family who was on the throne from 1682 to 1725; the book lays out his modernizing of the Russian army and his efforts to establish the still somewhat disparate Rus lands as a military power. During Peter’s reign Russia would join Austria and Venice in the Holy League to combine forces against the Ottoman Empire, showing a willingness to partner with other European powers. Peter the Great would also send the Russian military to war against Sweden’s Charles XII over control of the Baltic in 1700. It would take two decades, but Russia would ultimately emerge victorious over the Swedes. Alexander I, arguably the most well-known of Russia's numerous czars, would rule for twenty-four years. His time in power coincided with Napoleon’s ill-fated 1812 invasion. While this would be a proud time in the country’s history, the book details how the second half of the 1800s saw a decline in Russia’s prestige. A big blow was dealt by the country’s loss in the Crimean War, fought to ensure Russia did not gain access to the Holy Land or the Black Sea. The author makes this loss out to be a humiliating one for Russia, the sort of circumstance which forced it to examine what wholesale changes might be needed to restore their international standing. The Russo-Japanese War of the early twentieth century was presented as yet another instance when Russia was beaten back by a foreign power; the fact that it was done at the hands of a country racially different than their own added another layer to that setback. The ending of serfdom under Alexander II saw Russia similar struggles to the United States after slavery was ended in the latter country. Integrating a group whose previous status had consisted of working land for masters and little else into a society not entirely ready to welcome them with open arms paralleled the questions raised during the years of American Reconstruction. Russia and the Russians, as it should, describes Russia’s descent into infighting between the White and Red Russians once World War One was forfeited and Czar Nicholas II abdicated. To hear him write about it, the events set off by Red October in 1917 led to years of anarchy in the country, with Vladimir Lenin and Bolshevism temporarily coming out on top in the struggle. The end result of the Russian Revolution was Communism and the creation of the Soviet Union, a union which held inherent tension in it to begin with. The book does a good job of analyzing the internal inconsistencies in the USSR, including the ideological pretzels early leaders had to tie themselves into when explaining how the ultimate “withering away” of the state required a massive, centralized apparatus over far-flung eastern European land. The academic debates over turning over more local power to the various Soviet republics at the risk of empowering bourgeoisie elements in those very republics are largely squelched with the coming to power of Joseph Stalin. By that point debate is minimized and dissent is a thing of the past, and the Communist experiment seemed to devolve into domination by a coercive regime. The treatment of countries like Ukraine, which faced mass starvation thanks to Soviet policies during 1932-1933, are precursors to unrest which would explode later in the twentieth century thanks to built-up hostility toward the Soviet Union’s leadership. But before that can be looked at, the book walks readers through World War Two (The Great Patriotic War according to Hosking)-Operation Barbarossa and the subsequent brutal fighting between Germans and Russians is explained as well as it can be in a book not wedded to one particular time frame in Russian history. The ultimate Allied victory, and the manner in which it was quickly overshadowed by the onset of the Cold War, becomes the focus of the latter portion of Russia and the Russians. World War Two “generated a self-confident and authoritarian ruling class, and also among the population an appreciable classless, multiethnic patriotism.” This is how the author describes the postwar period, and the immediate confidence boost this gave Russia is shown to slowly whittle away during the twentieth century’s back half. Nikita Kruschev and Mikhail Gorbachev feature prominently in the final three decades before the Soviet Union’s collapse, and the slow thawing of tensions with the West-and the subsequent backing off (to some degree) on state censorship and elimination of gulag style punishments-serve as precursors to the collapse of the USSR. This collapse was completely finished by Christmas Day 1991. The book concludes with the twenty years since the end of the Communist empire, and it shows this to be a time of instability and confusion in Russia. Massive inflation, fights over what a democratic Russia should or would look like, and foreign policy disagreements over how to approach the countries they once “owned”-particularly Chechyna-feature prominently as the twentieth century slides in the twenty-first. (Reading between the lines, it is clear Hosking liked Gorbachev but is no admirer of Vladimir Putin) This is a solid book for beginners to Russian history. Many of its chapters could have been expanded into books of their own, and restraint is shown in not delving too deeply into segments in Russia's history which would have expanded the page count into the thousands. This balanced work of nonfiction is recommendable for any reader seeking to gain a better of understanding of Russia's growth and development. -Andrew Canfield Denver, Colorado

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lone

    Finished Geoffrey Hosking's 'Russia and the Russians: A History'. This journey this book has taken me on has been amazing. Thus far, there has been no compendium on Russian history that has had the insight, clarity or detail as Hosking's second edition has. An impressive collection of analysis and information that spans the military might of Steppe conflict of the Golden Horde, the era of Tzarship and political corruption of the Russian Autocracy. To the inception of the Marxist-Lenin Proletaria Finished Geoffrey Hosking's 'Russia and the Russians: A History'. This journey this book has taken me on has been amazing. Thus far, there has been no compendium on Russian history that has had the insight, clarity or detail as Hosking's second edition has. An impressive collection of analysis and information that spans the military might of Steppe conflict of the Golden Horde, the era of Tzarship and political corruption of the Russian Autocracy. To the inception of the Marxist-Lenin Proletarian Revolution, the rise and fall of the influence of Orthodox Christianity to eventually the fall of the Soviet Union. Each event and others in-between are covered in immense and careful detail so as to immerse the reader with a myriad of accurate historical information to understand why the Caucasus region is one of the most interesting areas of the world. Hosking's second edition is phenomenal, as his analysis is supplemented with historical context, historic governmental policies as well as documented correspondence of historical leadership and key subjects. Such intricate detail, allows the reader to understand from a more personal view how societal, political, environmental, economical and religious issues and policy developed the country Rus and the Soviet Union was, to what Russia is today. His attention to the correlation of foreign interaction with Russian citizenry and leadership provides an enlightening and intimate view into the Pre-Soviet, Soviet and Post-Soviet mindset and just how one of the greatest powers of the Eastern Hemisphere came to be and ultimately changed the world. Akin in scope and purpose of Howard Zinn's 'A Peoples History of the United States', Hosking's Russia and the Russians will satisfy any russophile and most certainly is an invaluable addition to any Eastern world historians collection. An impressive, informative and amazing read!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    Something I have to note with this book--since I see it so rarely any more--is that it has a very good index. Hosking italicizes Russian words and then the index helps one find the first or second use that includes the definition. A glossary would have been quicker but, except for one time, I could always locate the initial definition of a term if I couldn't remember it. There were a few odd lapses in the book-which is generally a thorough history-for instance, when he jumps from Lenin to Stalin Something I have to note with this book--since I see it so rarely any more--is that it has a very good index. Hosking italicizes Russian words and then the index helps one find the first or second use that includes the definition. A glossary would have been quicker but, except for one time, I could always locate the initial definition of a term if I couldn't remember it. There were a few odd lapses in the book-which is generally a thorough history-for instance, when he jumps from Lenin to Stalin while barely mentioning Lenin's death or the transition.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    just started this one. so far it's great -- concise and sweeping at the same time.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Margo Edwards

    I wanted a "real" survey of Russian history, not a "for dummies" book, but this was a little too scholarly for me. Very dense and took a long time to get through it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nate Bate

    It seems to happen that, with the larger history books, I get waylaid by many of life's busyness, and it takes me quite a while to read them. Hosking's book is no exception. Compared to the recent histories I have read, I was surprised that Russia's begins much later than these others (Persia, China, and India). I generally enjoyed Geoffrey Hosking's style, and I appreciated his effort at scholarly explanation and narrative style. Occasionally I felt that he recapitulated too often and with large It seems to happen that, with the larger history books, I get waylaid by many of life's busyness, and it takes me quite a while to read them. Hosking's book is no exception. Compared to the recent histories I have read, I was surprised that Russia's begins much later than these others (Persia, China, and India). I generally enjoyed Geoffrey Hosking's style, and I appreciated his effort at scholarly explanation and narrative style. Occasionally I felt that he recapitulated too often and with larger stroke than what my preference is. Perhaps folks who are more versed in Russian history than I am would find more value in this. Geoffrey does a good job bringing us into the present with Putin in power, and you have a good feel for how that happened. I found the role of the Orthodox Church fascinating in Russian history fascinating, and I derived many lessons from this that I can apply to my current American context. As is normal with the histories I have read, there are many helpful endnotes for further study. I'm glad I read the book, and I look forward to further study in the future.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    This book sets out to tell the story of the Russian people from their first historical mention in the 9th century CE. While this is quite a long book, it becomes clear that it is challenging to tell the whole story in a single volume book. As such, there are many times when it seemed he was telling the story to a group with decent prior knowledge, which I was not a part of. Also, this is not a book that details every war or battle. He mentions the important ones it seems but does not go into gre This book sets out to tell the story of the Russian people from their first historical mention in the 9th century CE. While this is quite a long book, it becomes clear that it is challenging to tell the whole story in a single volume book. As such, there are many times when it seemed he was telling the story to a group with decent prior knowledge, which I was not a part of. Also, this is not a book that details every war or battle. He mentions the important ones it seems but does not go into great detail. Instead he tries to create a story of the Russian people, so that we can coherently follow the zeitgeist throughout their history. This allowed me to take away a more intimate understanding of the Russian people. I learned a ton, and he covered all of the particular areas I was interested in, particularly for me Russia's historical relationship with the former Soviet bloc countries.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Thomson

    Great book that covers the 1600's to now. You get the broad social movements and transformations going on, what each ruler dealt with, and usually each chapter focuses on one particular aspect or problem each ruler dealt with. Learned a lot about Russian ideology, Russian identity, and basic history!

  14. 4 out of 5

    TS Allen

    "Altogether we must say that Russia was at one and the same time an embryonic constitutional monarchy and a police state. Both civil society and the means of suppressing civil society were getting stronger simultaneously."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lorren Eldridge

    Very long, variable in detail, but excellent footnotes for following ideas up.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lothar Spillemaeckers

    Probably the best single-volume book on Russian history available in English. Very well written, very comprehensive. A must read for any serious student of Russian history and culture.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jessie Scott

    It took me ages to finish because it’s so packed with dense facts that a lot of focus was required in sitting down to read this. The first section that dealt with the pre-Tsar period was excruciatingly dull but the rest was really interesting and revealed to me a lot of my own ignorance about Russia. The author clearly has a tremendous knowledge of and passion for the country. It was especially useful to my wider understanding that he consistently linked developments in Russia back to the rest o It took me ages to finish because it’s so packed with dense facts that a lot of focus was required in sitting down to read this. The first section that dealt with the pre-Tsar period was excruciatingly dull but the rest was really interesting and revealed to me a lot of my own ignorance about Russia. The author clearly has a tremendous knowledge of and passion for the country. It was especially useful to my wider understanding that he consistently linked developments in Russia back to the rest of the world, in particular to the major events of modern European history, in order to highlight the huge and often unintentional influence of a country that he admits is in essence third-world.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Halldór Thorgeirsson

    It is really worth the effort to read this book (all the 622 pages of it). It is true to its title in that it goes beyond the events, dates and the comings and goings of rulers and provides insights into the evolution of culture, changing (national) identity and the everyday life of peasants and workers. One example of this is how the Great Patriotic War (which we call the Second World War) transformed Russian national identity. In other words, the author goes below the surface and tries to give It is really worth the effort to read this book (all the 622 pages of it). It is true to its title in that it goes beyond the events, dates and the comings and goings of rulers and provides insights into the evolution of culture, changing (national) identity and the everyday life of peasants and workers. One example of this is how the Great Patriotic War (which we call the Second World War) transformed Russian national identity. In other words, the author goes below the surface and tries to give a sense of "what was really going on". Reading this book also helps in making sense of what is going on today in Ukraine and Crimea. Being of Viking decent, I valued the insights into the role the "Rus" or Vikings (or the Varangians as the Slavs called them) played in the early days including in the relationship with Constantinople. This puts Kiev very central to Russian "national" identity. I have many Russian friends and appreciate them even more now after reading this enjoyable book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Geo Forman

    Whew, quite a slog. What started as a curiosity regarding how Russia and Russians could rationalize their occupation of Ukraine, became an investigation of the entire history of Russia. At times, very interesting but often too scholarly, this book eventually provided insight on Ukraine as well as Chechnya and all the "stans" along its southern border. The history of Russia ebbed and flowed along with its borders. Once it acquired territory, it wanted to keep it as a buffer because its great expa Whew, quite a slog. What started as a curiosity regarding how Russia and Russians could rationalize their occupation of Ukraine, became an investigation of the entire history of Russia. At times, very interesting but often too scholarly, this book eventually provided insight on Ukraine as well as Chechnya and all the "stans" along its southern border. The history of Russia ebbed and flowed along with its borders. Once it acquired territory, it wanted to keep it as a buffer because its great expanse was difficult to defend or maintain. Many local populations were deported west to be replaced by loyal Russians. This was the big problem with Chechnya Muslims. In recent years, when descendants of displaced Chechnyans found their way back to Chechnya, they fomented rebellion against what was now Russia, no longer the Soviet Union. The later part of the book was of particular interest dealing with the time period of my life up to the 21st century. A book that the reader can choose the depth of information to satisfy their own need for information.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    Amazing overview of what we now know as Russia - from the earliest appearance by the Russians in 860 right up to the start of Putin's reign at the turn of the century. Hosking's approach - to look at the history of the country from its earliest point - serves to outline many recurring features of the successive Russian states, such as their relative agricultural weakness, fear of invasion, desire to be seen as a great power and so on. Particularly interesting is the soviet era, and how many of t Amazing overview of what we now know as Russia - from the earliest appearance by the Russians in 860 right up to the start of Putin's reign at the turn of the century. Hosking's approach - to look at the history of the country from its earliest point - serves to outline many recurring features of the successive Russian states, such as their relative agricultural weakness, fear of invasion, desire to be seen as a great power and so on. Particularly interesting is the soviet era, and how many of the things that appear as a complete break with previous history actually arose from peculiarly Russian circumstances: communism is not so far away from the "collective responsibility" which governed most Russian villages for many hundreds of years. All in all, a masterful work. I was sad it ended. And I want to go back.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Caleb

    Hoskings is a master writer of history. Personally I would have preferred more social history but it struck a right balance between chronology and conceptual history. We have so much to learn from Russia and its history as the survivor, and the only other nation in our world with such magnitude of feelings of exceptionalism equivalent to the United States. In the 1970s many Russians felt that they were loosing their identity to the Soviet Union and Hoskings writes, "...many Russians were anxious Hoskings is a master writer of history. Personally I would have preferred more social history but it struck a right balance between chronology and conceptual history. We have so much to learn from Russia and its history as the survivor, and the only other nation in our world with such magnitude of feelings of exceptionalism equivalent to the United States. In the 1970s many Russians felt that they were loosing their identity to the Soviet Union and Hoskings writes, "...many Russians were anxious to discover a way of being Russian which did not depend on empire." If this is what Russia is dealing with now, its something we will all have to deal with in the near future.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell Tsai

    Lots of information, but verrrry tedious reading. I even started reading backwards chapter by chapter. There's a lot I learned beyond my college Russian history & government classes. One example is the complexity and history of collectiveness/community-think and the self-governmental aspects of Russian serf life compared to European lord-serf relations. Having hundreds of pages of examples of how these evolved over centuries added depth to the basic ideas I learned 30 years ago. I just wish it wer Lots of information, but verrrry tedious reading. I even started reading backwards chapter by chapter. There's a lot I learned beyond my college Russian history & government classes. One example is the complexity and history of collectiveness/community-think and the self-governmental aspects of Russian serf life compared to European lord-serf relations. Having hundreds of pages of examples of how these evolved over centuries added depth to the basic ideas I learned 30 years ago. I just wish it were more fun to read. :-(

  23. 4 out of 5

    Hancock

    A wonderful history with an emphasis less on events and more on how events affected the group-psyche of the Russians and the Soviets (including the 'reluctant' Soviets) and, in turn, how that psyche affected events. It is thick at about 630 pages with with another 70 pages that includes a time line of events and notes.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rhesa

    I don't know about other readers, but I got this book since 2002 and I have only managed to read a few chapters, and I find it hardgoing. I wish it was a simpler and more digestible piece of work. Oh well maybe it's just because of my simplicity after all.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    I thought the book a good introduction into Russian history and culture. It doesn't overwhelm or sometimes, cover to my liking everything, but it was more than satisfactory and until such time as I find a more comprehensive one volume history of Russia, I will recommend this one to anyone.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Kennedy

    This book is long and reads like a textbook, but now a big hole in my education is a little bit filled. It gets four stars because I generally like textbooks. Russia has moved up my list of places to visit next and is now tied for top-spot with Ireland. Someday...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Christen

    Finally finished! Excellent "concise" history of Russia in 700 pages. It ends when Putin becomes President in 2000. It was really interesting to read and recognized the on going issues that each ruler had in control, and expanding the Soviet Union.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    A decent but very short history of Russia told in such a way as to try and explain the Russian people. Not bad for all that, although totally lacking a section on Catherine the Great.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Recommendation from Luke.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    I can't remember if I ever finished this boring book about the history of Russia, but I DO know how it turns out because I watched Russian TV News.

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