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Showing 1-10 of 27 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 40 reviews
on August 25, 2016
I've re-read this book 3 times, and will do so again. One of the very best insights into the history, belief, and minds of our counterparts in the East. Sixsmith went to University in Moscow as a young man, and then returned as Moscow correspondent with the BBC News. He was there when The Wall came down. This is an excellent book for anyone who wishes to know more about a fascinating country and peoples.
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on February 2, 2014
Prior to reading Sixsmith's historical understanding of the Russian psyche, I had faintly subscribed to Churchill's "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma". However, written in historical sequence, with insight borne of actual years of reporting from Russia in its turbulent years at the end of communism, and, as the author intended, "with no value judgements", I find this one of the best books I have read after putting down the last of Robert Fisk's. From the age of 15, when I first read Tolstoy and Solzhenitsyn, I have been fascinated by the combination of Asiatic and Western values that Russia embodies. Working with Russian teachers and visiting Russia in 2007, I, three generations removed from my Russian roots, found it hard to believe that they would prefer a system based on secret police and lack of freedom of speech. Although Sixsmith does not do it, it is fascinating to compare the emergence of capitalism in Russia with that of China. As the author points out, when Yeltsin tried to enter the capitalist world, he did so at breakneck speed with little information and knowledge about the direction and relied on Western advice, (This at the time of "Greed is Good" in western financial markets) but with the rapid easing of state control. Whereas China has been more successful because they have changed over a period of decades and have only very gradually loosened the grip of state control. Sixsmith also points out the Russian tradition of State before the individual people and the autocratic domination, passed down since the beginning of their times which is perhaps why, at deciding points in their history, from a Western viewpoint, the road less travelled has been taken. This book has made me think about Russia for weeks after, regrettably, coming to the end. Unlike some journalists in the ADHD world of modern journalism who rush to a spot, spend six weeks there and then write their opinions of it, Sixsmith has lived and researched his material and couched it in a very readable style.
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on April 11, 2015
Engagingly written.
Having visited most of the places mentioned in the book I loved understanding the history of each place. I feel his premise that Russia is both East and West, together with the vastness of the borders and the various invasions from Swedes, Poles, Mongols, Islam, Ottoman, Nazi, etc helps a person from the west understand the Russian psyche - why an autocrat is a good thing in Russian eyes. The insights into Orthodoxy helps those from a Latin West (Roman Catholic and Evangelical) are good and helpful.
Although written before the present troubles between Russian and Ukraine and the annexing of Crimea the book helps to understand the history why Russians respect Putin as a strong leader and why they don't like being boxed in by US imperialism in the guise of NATO.
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on April 11, 2014
This is very readable history and does help the reader understand some of the enigma we call Russia. However, it does not really us know what Putin is likely to do next when it comes to Ukraine and the Baltic countries. My guess is he will push to conquer until someone pushes back.
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on February 28, 2013
I read several reviews, some unhappy that most of the book is from the 19th century onward, however 1000 years would take up several books to accomplish. I needed a sense, a understanding of the country and this book gave me that. Russia is a country I knew little about and this helped immensely.
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on May 11, 2017
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Am now reading Dr. Zhivago. :)
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on April 16, 2017
Wonderful book on the Russian history, having read it cover to cover twice, I find I am always learning something new each time I read this book.
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on August 30, 2016
Sixsmith deftly wedges Russia's long and raucous history between two covers. There is not one boring or unnecessary sentence in the entire book.
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on February 27, 2014
Having seen 'Philomena' at the cinema, I was keen to see if Martin ever got to write his book on Russia, how glad I am to have found it on my Kindle. Written in lovely, understandable English, it was a joy to read. Whilst I enjoyed the whole book, I particularly liked the era in which I have lived, from the days of Stalin to Putin, totally enthralling. With today's problems in Kiev and the Crimea I can see history repeating all over again. Let's hope not. More please Martin.
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on February 7, 2014
Excellent read! Almost did not want to finish because then what could be next? What can top this fabulous read?
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