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Russia: A Short History (Short Histories) [Kindle Edition]

Abraham Ascher
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

From the emergence of the first Slavic state to the conflict in Chechnya and the policies of Vladimir Putin, this is a concise yet thoughtful guide to the complex and turbulent history of Russia and its people. Paying particular attention to the implications of a future without Putin at its helm, Abraham Ascher provides a skillful blend of detail and analysis for all the key points in Russian history, from the Bolshevik Revolution to the coup that ousted Gorbachev. Newly updated to cover Russia's growing economic stature as well as the mounting divergence between Russia and the US' foreign policy stance, this stimulating introduction will prove useful and enlightening for students, scholars, and travellers alike.

Editorial Reviews


"A coherent account of Russia's vibrant history, explaining the complex story of Russian development with great clarity. Vividly illuminates Russia's past and shows how it has contributed to its troubled present." --Peter Waldron, Professor of Modern History- University of East Anglia


"So concise and comprehensive history is a rare accomplishment. Ideal for a general reader seeking a clear, coherent narrative on the history of Russia from its origins to the present."

Product Details

  • File Size: 807 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications; Second Edition edition (June 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00550O2S6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,681 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brief and Comprehensive December 14, 2004
An excellent general overview, Ascher has succeeded in condensing a tremendous amount of information into a concise and highly readable book. This is an accomplishment not to be underestimated! Many could write the same book in 2,000 pages, but to get it all into 250 is a noteworthy. I've studied Russian history in some depth, but I was looking for something that gets straight to the point to use teaching a high school class. I was really impressed with this book, and would recommend it to anyone who wants a comprehensive yet brief overeview of the subject.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very informative and insightful text August 7, 2008
Abraham Ascher's book Russia: A Short History is an informative and insightful summary of Russia's long and storied history. Beginning with the emergence of the first Slavic state and finishing with Putin's presidency, Ascher brilliantly encapsulates Russia politically, socially, and culturally. He does a great job of condensing almost a millennium of material into an easy to read 250 page book. I do not envy his job as I'm sure it pained him to try and summarize so much with so few sentences. Although I only began reading from chapter 3 I can still confidently say that I owe a great deal of what I now know about Russian history today to what I read in Ascher's text.
After touching on the time period between 1000 and 1650, Abraham really begins to tap into his genius at the start of Peter the Great's rein in 1695. He proves he is not just a great historian but also a good writer by telling memorable stories which compliment the objective narrative. One can tell that Ascher truly enjoys discussing Russian history especially the great rulers such as Peter, Catherine, Lenin and Stalin. If I had to guess I would say that Ascher's area of expertise would be from the revolutions of the early 20th century and through the USSR's rein. It is during these later chapters that Ascher makes his most precise analyses and gives his most thorough commentary.
Obviously the book is not recommended to those seeking an in-depth review of Russian history. That would be impossible to achieve in only 250 pages. The book best serves those who are seeking a shorter examination. One should not assume however, that Ascher substitutes quality for brevity.
I used the book as a source of information for my Russian history class, and it proved to be a great way to prepare for class discussion.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best on the period from 1725-1924 December 9, 2012
Russia - A short history represents a balanced, complete and yet compact history of Russia in English covering the period from the the rise of Kiev Rus to ~2008. If the Putin era (and to a lesser extent the Yeltsin years) is important to you, you have to look elsewhere. First because the years after 2008 is not included and 2nd because the period from 1996-2008 is the weakest part of Ascher's book.

When I give "Russia - a short History" 4 stars, it should be interpreted as the average of 3 stars to his coverage from 1953 to 2008, 5 stars from 1725-1924 and 4 stars for the period up to 1725 and 1924-1953. If you first and for most are interested in the period from 1725 (meaning the period of Palace revolutions, the period leading up to Napoleon's invation of Russia, the revolution and the Russian Civil war and death of Lenin) this is a good choice. If the period after the death of Stalin in 1953 is important to you, you should look elsewhere as there is a very wide choice of introductions to Russian history under ~350 pages.

Ascher delivers good and balanced portrats of of the rulers of Russia up to 1953. Ascheer describes the Intelligentsia anno the 1850s as a small, well-educated class, limited to the capitol that did not agree amongst themselves beyond being critical to the authorities and with limited appeal beyond their own class. I found the similarities with the Orange movement in Ukraine and the liberal opposition in Modern Russia, as one of the most interesting points in Ascher's book. On the other hand he writes very little about life on the countryside, despite that more than 90% of the population lived and died on the countryside in Imperial Russia. The colonisation of Siberia from late 1500 is hardly mentioned.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect read for beginners. July 30, 2011
Briefly covers Russian history from the Rurikids to the Putin years, easy to read and contains all the important themes of an incredible history. If you have any interest in Russia and it's history, then this is the perfect book to wet your appetite and get you hungry for more!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Russia Briefly May 5, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A good starter on the topic..but if you want any real detail you need to seek special texts on the subject. The revolutionary period from 1905 to 1939 in particular is hurried,but I is good easy reading
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book November 26, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent brief description of Russia history. East have to see and understand the challenges, Latin America must be keep looking for the opportunity
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good Start July 30, 2013
By Bruce
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is a great synopsis of the history of Russia. It is a great starting point to get a general time line of the nations history. This should stimulate the reading to want to delve into the stories and periods of Russian history they find most fascinating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just like the title says...short. June 20, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For those who want a great overview of Russian history get this book. I've now read it twice since I got it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Only fair reading
OK, fair book, but a little disjointed. I only read it because it was short and I was going to Russia, so it served it'd purpose
Published 6 months ago by prw
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather good on early history, but very biased & unbalanced in the 2oth...
Only one paragraph on USSR's contribution to winning World War II? REALLY? And that drunken buffoon Yeltsin superior to both Gorbachev & Putin? REALLY? Read more
Published 20 months ago by John F. Emerson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
The clarity and quality of the narrative on Russia is the great strength of this book.
Russian history is fascinating, vast, complex and sometimes very difficult to... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Jose Roberto de Andrade Filho
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice summary of Russian/Ukrainian history
I would recommend for anyone who is interested in learning a little more about Russian history. This is not definitive...but definitely a good introduction.
Published on November 11, 2012 by Charles H. Rosa
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. Concise, yet very enjoyable to read.
Author captures the key elements in this historical summary, putting each character and period into context of what was happening globally as we'll as within Russia. Read more
Published on October 6, 2012 by L
4.0 out of 5 stars Concise!
If you want a concise and well written primer on Russian history, this is the book for you. Ascher provides a pleasant overview of major developments and figures in Russian... Read more
Published on September 10, 2012 by VKNY
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lot of History in a Little Book
My husband and I are amazed at how much information, complete with nuances, is included in this short history of Russia. Read more
Published on June 4, 2012 by Roxy Fairdeal
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid overview of Russia
Ascher's "Russia: A Short History" is a great choice to get acquainted with Russian history. I didn't know much of Russia's story except as it relates to the World Wars and the... Read more
Published on May 1, 2012 by Stewart Williams
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