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The Making of Modern Russia
Drawing on documentation only recently made available in the West, this extensively revised and updated edition reflects current views, in Russia and abroad, on the country's past as it approaches the new millennium.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 30th 1963 by Penguin Books
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This tome is pretty heavy going - and does expect a certain knowledge of political science - but as a comprehensive summary of hundreds of years of Russian and Soviet history, I'm sure it can't be beaten. Even allows for the odd moment of humour (though not many during the Stalin years...) However, the Third Edition finishes just as the CIS comes into existence, so a more updated version may be needed or is perhaps already out there?