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A History of Modern Russia: From Tsarism to the Twenty-First Century

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  220 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Russia had an extraordinary twentieth century, undergoing upheaval and transformation. Updating his acclaimed "History of Modern Russia," Robert Service provides a panoramic perspective on a country whose Soviet past encompassed revolution, civil war, mass terror, and two world wars. He shows how seven decades of communist rule, which penetrated every aspect of Soviet life ...more
Paperback, 687 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Harvard University Press (first published 2003)
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Mikey B.
A splendid book on a remarkable country. What a history that country had in the twentieth century and what repercussions it had on the entire world! It is hard to think of another country – including the United States – that had more of an impact on world politics.

Robert Service covers it all superbly. He points out that Lenin was no moralist or humanitarian. It was Lenin who coined the term “dictatorship of the proletariat” which meant NO to democracy, NO to elections; and as the term implies a
...more
Vandita
If you wanted to read one book on Modern Russian History without getting bogged down with hundreds of pages of explanations on communism and ideological details, this is it. Robert Service, an Oxford prof specialising in Russian History and author of many biographies of Russian Tsars and Communist leaders, has written a comprehensive but fast paced (each chapter on an era or theme of max 20 pages) book which in 550 odd pages covers the ground from 1914 to 1990. I liked the objective way in which ...more
Adrian
Having previously read Robert Service's Lenin, and Comrades, I had already begun to consider Service as the most scholarly authority on modern Russia, and this expertly written volume cements my opinion of him.
The work is neither too long, but perhaps, at over 570 pages, it is perhaps too short as it leaves the reader wanting more.
Covering the entire 20th Century and the first decade of the 21st, Service leaves no stone unturned. All the major personalities and forces for change are included, an
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Elliot
One of the reviews on the back cover of Robert Service's "A History of Modern Russia" calls the book "a balanced, dispassionate, and painstaking account" of Russian history.

I guess I couldn't agree more, and I suppose that history books whose primary purposes are to catalogue and preserve a nation's story ought to be free from opinion and all of the biases that a normal person might possess.

But then, how many people want to read a balanced, dispassionate, painstaking account of anything?

"A Histo
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Alan Ressler
I couldn't help but feel a heavy undercurrent in favor of western modes of "democratization" and economic policy throughout the entire work, but then again, the Soviet Order (at least in my opinion) was cumbersome and highly authoritarian throughout its existence, regardless of the perspective in which you choose to view its methodology. There's a definite difference between ideological orientation and actual implementation of policy. While I more or less sympathize with the "communist" cause, ...more
Chambermusic79
This is one of the best history books I have ever read. As a general review of Russian history in the 20th century, it faces no simple task: on the one hand, the sheer bulk of events is overwhelming; on the other hand, summaries often risk being too fast-paced and shallow. Service has found the perfect balance. He always sounds well-informed, but he never bores the reader with unnecessary details: he uses facts and data to build up his points, and from time to time he spices up the narrative wit ...more
Anna
I expected something worse, cause at first I didn't know if the author is British or American (sorry for that - but sometimes Americans are total ignorants). After reading A History of Modern Russia I started thinking about Robert Service in similiar way as about Norman Davies, British historian specializing in history of Poland.

The book is really good and well-written. Most of the stuff is explained and usage of foreign (for British) words isn't overwhelming and irritating. For everyone who
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Bryan
A very well presented exploration of the October Revolution and the legacy it wrought throughout the remainder of the 20th century. The book's strength lies in the Lenin and Stalin eras in describing the authoritarian methods employed to deprive citizens of their economic autonomy, the history of the Eastern Front of WWII, and in ultimately setting the stage for the Cold War. The book becomes slightly sparser in content afterwards and focused on the internal machinations of the communist party a ...more
Lauren
Robert Service gives a general overview in this book of the years 1900-2000 in Russia. It is obvious that he is very well-studied on Russian history, and he does a great job explaining what was going on in the country through all the different time periods and regime changes the people endured.

Overall it was a great book, but the style he writes in can be very hard to understand sometimes. He also writes in a very scholarly tone that can be a bit hard to follow at times. However, I would recomm
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Anya
i was eager to read this after slogging through orlando figes' pompous and overdramatic history of the revolution. unfortunately, this was a slog-through for the opposite reason. While coherent and informative, the book is SO dry and SO boring it's difficult to keep your attention. While Figes is someone who can't balance the many topics he takes on and do justice to any of them, Service covers everything in depth while making his own analysis barely perceptible, which is disappointing in its ow ...more
Craig
This is the second book by Robert Service that I have read; "Trotsky" being the other book. I enjoy his straight forward approach to the historical record of Russia. The book can be a bit dry at times, but I blame history for that. What can a historian do with twenty years of Brezhnev? I've filled the pages with ink and plan on delving deeper into the history. I highly recommend this book and any Russian literary works from Robert Service.
mkld
Estupendo. Historia muy muy completa sobre Rusia desde la revolución hasta hoy en día. En inglés a veces resulta un poco complicada, pero realmente da toda la información necesaria y dibuja un lienzo muy completo sobre la historia de este país en una época interesantísima de la Historia.
Realmente, con este libro basta para conocer todo lo que se necesita sobre Rusia.
Highjump
Not for an advanced Russian history person (no discussion of historiography, lack of nuance in some areas, Western bias) but still quite good. Russian history can be intimidating, this is a very readable account of the Soviet period for someone who is just beginning to learn about Russia, or someone who wants to update their knowledge.
Erin
Phew! I'm proud of myself for sticking with this sometimes dry but very informative history of Russia. Since I've been reading it over the course of the better part of a year, I don't know how fair of a review I can give it, other than I clearly needed breaks from it and read other books in between.
Edmole
A big bastard of a book about a big bastard of a country. Amazing the amount of agony a people can tolerate. Could mebbe do with less info on agricultural yields and more about the human experience, but I guess without agricultural yields there are no humans to have experiences.
Simon
This is perhaps the best comprehensive Western history of modern Russia. Service avoids much of the ideological grandstanding that pervades far too many histories of Russia, the latter being the inevitably consequence of the Cold War. It's also a great read.
Stefanie
i wish i would have known that a third edition was up for release before purchasing the second edition. i am very curious about twenty-first century economic and political events, especially the re-emergence of russia as a world power.
Nick P.
A bit dry and heavy on statistics, but overall a very informative history of the world behind the Iron Curtain.
John Maniscalco
This book contains no new information or insights and glosses over every historical event. Not worth it at all.
Craig Brantley
I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more information on Putin, but overall a good history of modern Russia.
Hugh Collins
Aug 30, 2007 Hugh Collins rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The world
Covers a huge and fascinating topic in a simple, easy-to-read way. Fantastic.
Michelle
Very well written and informative.
Akiko
I read Part Four (1972-2002) only.
Dan Murphy
- solid but rushed
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5056734
Robert Service is a British academic and historian of modern Russia and the Soviet Union. He is a professor of Russian history at the University of Oxford and a Fellow at St. Antony's College, Oxford.


He is the author of the highly acclaimed Lenin: A Biography, A History of Twentieth - Century Russia, Russia: Experiment with a People and Stalin: A Biography, as well as many other books on Russia's
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More about Robert Service...
Stalin Lenin: A Biography Trotsky: A Biography Comrades: A World History of Communism A History of Twentieth-Century Russia

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