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A History of Russia Paperback – July 12, 2010

42 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195341973 ISBN-10: 019534197X Edition: 8th

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Editorial Reviews


"A History of Russia is one of the best, if not the best, one-volume texts of Russian history from Kievan times to the present. It does an exceptionally effective job of synthesizing a basic (yet always interesting and stimulating) narrative of Russian/Eurasian history with an introduction to historiographical debates about the major scholarly issues, showing how scholarship on certain issues has evolved over time. Generations of students have profited remarkably from this book. It is both a wonderful teaching tool and a useful reference book for scholars."--Glennys Young, University of Washington

About the Author

Nicholas Riasanovsky is Professor Emeritus of History the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of several books, including A Parting of Ways: Government and the Educated Public in Russia: 1801-1855 (1976) and The Image of Peter the Great in Russian History and Thought (OUP, 1985).

Mark Steinberg is Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Specializing in the cultural, intellectual, and social history of Russia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, his many books include Voices of Revolution, 1917 (2001) and Proletarian Imagination: Self, Modernity, and the Sacred in Russia, 1910-1925 (2002). Since 2006, he has been editor of the journal Slavic Review.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 816 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 8 edition (July 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019534197X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195341973
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.1 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By ransome22 on August 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Do not expect gripping dramatic prose from this detailed history. This is an adequate text and reference but not likely suited for the information-seeking, recreational reader. Despite studying international relations for several years, my knowledge of Russian history exhibited glaring weaknesses. Riasanovsky's work continued to appear as I researched texts with which to fortify my deficiencies. All indications show it to be a classic work of Russian history, used in university courses for decades, and perhaps the most detailed one-volume work suited for a general audience. I found "A History of Russia" (Sixth Edition) to be informative, detailed, and faithfully updated (now encapsulating the fall of the Soviet Union and Russia under Yeltsin). Although a solid text, it is a difficult tome to conquer cover-to-cover as it fails to capture the literary senses of the reader.
Riasanovsky takes the reader mechanically through the development of the Russian state. He begins with the geopolitical landscape as it existed prior to the Russians then examines in detail the flowering of Kiev, the appanage system, and the Muscovite, imperialist, revolutionary, and Soviet eras. Riasanovsky's painstaking attention to detail and thorough familiarity with other historiographies provide the reader with a comprehensive evolutionary picture. For example, his illustration of the early appanage system and the continuation of class disparities well into the 20th century shed ample light on the fertile ground into which Vladimir Lenin was able to sow the communist theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. His verbal portraits of leaders such as Ivan the Terrible and Catherine the Great give meaningful context to the power struggles and political imbroglios which characterized specific reigns.
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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Frodo on July 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I couldn't help but address the comments of the reader that gave this work 1 star. It's interesting that he cites the territories annexed by Russia as Chinese / Japanese / etc. Where do you think Japan / China / etc. got those territories? Did he ever stop to think that at one point in time Japan, China, and any other country didn't have statehood, and the latter is always achieved through a painful process of unification by both doplomatic and military means? If same logic of denying a country its legitimacy based on forceful means of expansion is used consistently, then our great country of the USA should also be considered an illegitimate occupant of native American lands. Please let us adhere to commonly accepted methods of historical research and exposition, instead of expressing one's ill attitude toward a country using flawed reasoning.
The book at hand does indeed present a comprehensive coverage of Russian history, albeit in a somewhat dry fashion. Do not expect to finish this book and be left with crisp and colorful images of Russia's history. But what you can expect is a comprehensive coverage of every period of Russian history, complete with dates, names, and places. After a once-over, this book can be used as a reference, or a refresher on a particular timeframe in the history of the country. I am still looking for a more captivating work on Russian history, so anyone knows of any - please recommend.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By "vasilisa4" on March 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I just read a "one star review" of this book, and it galled me. So I write this.
This book is a STANDARD history of Russia, used by many, including my, college courses on the subject. It is generally considered a classic.
If you want, or profess, to understand Russian history, this book is a must. Absolutely. First rate. NO, not without the author's personal imput.
But what book is without that imput? NONE.
Buy it, read it, and try to understand. Yes, read others, but read this first.
Take care and God bless your endeavors.
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83 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Kendall VINE VOICE on September 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
For those interested in Russia and its past, this is not a bad place to start. It is as comprehensive as a 600 page volume can be. I read the Fourth Edition, so am glad to hear that it has been updated at least to the Gorbochov era. Riasanovsky is particularly adroit at representing early Russian history, with vivid accounts of the numerous invasions (Mongols, Vikings, Tatars, Teutons, etc.). After reading this book, one cannot help but understand the national paranoia and xenophobia that has been so much a part of Russian policy and posture throughout so much of its history. It also becomes clearer why Russia has historically needed a central "father" or "mother" figure to guide it through its tumultuous periods.
As to a reader's criticism, Riasanovsky is indeed somewhat biased, but certainly no more than the typical American historian writing about US History. He gives more than equal blame, for instance, to Nicholas II for getting his country involved in the Crimean War. He certainly never acts as an apologist for any of the Russian rulers at any stage, though his admiration for Peter the Great and Catherine can't be denied.
Poles, Ukranians, Lithuanians, etc. are not going to be won over by this book, but it is to the author's credit that the reader understands why they wont be. But winning anyone's approval is hardly Riasnovsky's object. He's primarily trying to tell the story of a people, and he succeeds on that level, quite brilliantly. The story he tells is complex and fascinating, to say the least. So many colorful and unforgettable characters advanced across Russia's historical stage, that any other country would be hard put to come up with such a cast or a saga.
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