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A History of Russia

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  721 ratings  ·  53 reviews
The new edition of this work has been updated to the death of Brezhnev and the succession of Andropov, and the section on Russian relations with Poland and Afghanistan has been thoroughly revised.
Hardcover, Fourth Edition, 695 pages
Published January 19th 1984 by Oxford University Press
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  721 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Russia. A complex and fascinating history, a rich culture with many a contradiction, influenced by a unique geography defined by a sweeping expanse of beautiful but challenging and sometimes harsh and unforgiving landscapes, a “nation” whose history can be characterized as heroic, brutal and tragic.

Russia. Straddling between Asia and Europe, but with strong ties to European culture and history, as repeatedly stressed in history by many Russian leaders like Peter the Great and Catherine t
Jul 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For an overview of Russian history, from Kievan Rus to the post-communist rule of Vladimir Putin, this book does a good job. It describes not only the usual progression of kings and wars, but goes into some detail regarding politics - both foreign and domestic - as well as trade, education-levels, social order, literature and the arts as they have shifted through the centuries.

On the other hand, this is a rather shallow look at Russian history, barely dipping its toes into the ocean of reasons
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A good textbook with clear and simple prose, but very dry for the casual reader. X happens and then Y happens and professors Z1 and Z2 have such-and-so interpretations, but with almost no quotations from primary sources or detail to give color (and improve retention of the material).

This is probably the best history "textbook" I've ever read. This has gotten me through my Russian history course. Never underestimate the power of a good textbook, especially in the face of a poor lecturer..
David Withun
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Classic history of Russia by noted scholar

This classic survey of Russian history is an excellent overview of this sprawling cultural, military, and political power which has had such a major impact on the world over the last centuries. Written by one of the pre-eminent scholars in the field, it can serve as a textbook introducing students to major topics, a reference for those looking for summaries and overviews of key themes and developments, or simply an informative work for those wanting a de
Revanth Ukkalam
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia
This is a how a history book must be written. It is an account of Russia's transition from the early Ruirikid State in Kiev to the present. Without going into trivial details and never being verbose, the book surveys the political, economic, social, religious landscapes and other areas too. It gives you a taste of the average Russian's life and spirit through its history. It is exceptionally balanced. Wherever needed it gives a fair idea to the student, of the differing schools of thought addres ...more
Ivan Kapersky
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
With all the recent activity in Ukraine and Crimea,the history of Russia deserves another opportunity to be read it again. Russia's history no doubt indeed is very complicated and uncertain. The author explains multiple theories with the origins of the Kievan Rus. The author explores each period of time with different categories as: literature, architecture,education and political organization. The version I read was the 4th which ends in 1976. The book narrative is easy and difficult in some pa ...more
Simona Bartolotta
Reading this for university.
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Someone quiz me on Russian history, I dare you.

I'm ready. 800 large, small text and tiny margin-ed pages ready.
Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clear and presented in a manner which I didn't think was terribly dry(warning: I'm nerdy about history), I found this to be everything I wanted in an initial foray into Russian history. Riasanovsky does not force his opinions on the reader, nor does he make any unfounded claims. Quite matter-of-fact and balanced with alternate theories presented where appropriate and sources meticulously recorded. Further, there is an extensive list of reading material provided at the end of the text for those w ...more
Mar 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia
This is an academic textbook that covers the history of Rus/Russia to approximately 2010. Its covers both classic history but also culture of each time period. The authors are well read and sometimes appear to be unable to strongly favor any point of view. It is less straightforward than Russia and Russians which is a more one opinion work. I enjoyed learning a lot. The only flaw/disappointment was how they dealt with Stalin or rather did not deal with him. From reading this text one would not g ...more
A very broad look at Russia's History. A good source for quick facts and a general scope on Russia, but not that great for a close look at any particular ruler.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-history, russia
This is an academic survey and has all the vices and virtues of the genre. It's comprehensive and learned, and generally well-written and edited, but also a bit dry and abstract. One doesn't get much of a sense of what life was like at a given time.

Still, it fulfilled its function. I wanted a chronological survey, and I got a decent one. Now I have an idea of what blanks I want to fill in.
Mike Clinton
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent survey text for a college-level course in Russian history. Mark Steinberg has taken over the responsibility of revising editions from the earlier Riasanovsky versions, and one virtue of this edition is how it engages previous editions' analyses and representations, essentially including its own earlier iterations as part of the commentaries on historiographical developments.
Alexa Hansen-Beeman
A very well put together book that brings history to life and addresses issues that Russia faced from Kievan Rus’ to modern day.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Yes, I did read the whole thing, thank you very much. I absolutely loved my history of Russia class, and this was certainly the better of the two required textbooks.
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Russian historians, History students, History teachers
Recommended to Michael by: John Braun
Although German history was my primary focus in Graduate School, I would be hard-pressed to come up with as comprehensive and useful a history of that country, from its misty past in prehistory to the conflagrations of the Twentieth Century and the comparable stability since, as this book is for Russia. Unlike many of the books I read in school, I frequently turn to this one to clarify a fact or refresh my memory of the general picture of Russia at a given point in its history. When I did use it ...more
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dostoevsky
I was recommended this book in Professor Irwin Weil's syllabus for 'Classics of Russian Literature'. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of Russia. It covers the creation of Russia to the Soviet era. It is very comprehensive, covering not only the rulers but also explains the economic, cultural and social scene. It also introduces the key historical approaches and explains the issues surrounding certain sources. I would recommend buying the latest editio ...more
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The version of this book that I wrote was published in the early 1980s, so I am hoping that later versions of the book have improved. Over all this is a very good history of Russia. Riasanovsky focuses on the various forces that interact in the Russian people; the West versus the Slavic heritage, the Orthodox heritage versus Communism, indeed, Russia is a land of contradictions. I would actually give this book two ratings. For its coverage of Russia prior to 1917 I would give it five stars. This ...more
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Comprehensive and sweeping as the Steppe, Riasanovsky clearly demonstrates his knowledge of the history of Russia. The book provides a thorough description of the foundations of Russua--especially its Kievan roots and through the Romanov dynasty.

This edition--published during the Andropov-Chernenko transition--however, fails to draw the Russian authoritarian through-line: to rule Russia means to rule with an iron fist, whether that be Rus, Mongol, Romanov, or Bolshevik.

While aptly criticizing t
Buddy Don
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is a text book, so it has everything one might hope for in a history: great bibiliography, both for English and Russian sources, great maps, fantastic index -- in fact, everything one could want to learn about Russia ... in 1984, since that's the edition I read. That means the writer could not know how certain things would turn out, and makes many of his claims easy to evaluate. He seems to have well understood the pressure Reagan's military buildup would have to have on the USSR, but he do ...more
I wanted a book that was comprehensive on the history of Russia, understandable by a layman that did not know much about it beforehand, not too boring to be able to go through the end, not too full of references to other famous historian works.
I found all of that and more. What I did not expect what that the tone of the book would be that wry and that many topics would be used as to show what the author believes to be the Russian soul and spirit (I'm not speaking about vodka there). So in a way,
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history lovers, those interested in Russia
Awesome overview of Russia from its humble beginnings to the madhouse it became during the post-Soviet era. I would recommend this to anyone wanting to learn about Russia for the very first time. It is also a nice resource for 'quick facts' about particular eras in Russian history/literature/political thought. It is incredibly readable as well dedicating entire sections to the aforementioned: history, political thought and literature. I managed to read the ENTIRE thing throughout the course of a ...more
Michael Linton
This book was a bear of a book. It's 629 pages long and covers the history of Russia since the beginning of time. Since this covers hundreds of years, it cannot go into great detail for many of major events. Yet oddly, the author would felt it was important to cover the arts, literature, and present many statistics for every major time frame. I guess the author wanted to cover every aspect of Russian life.

Overall, I am better informed about Russia and know which topics I would want to read about
Sep 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've wanted to read this for a long time because I wanted to learn about Russia, and this is the textbook they use at UCLA, but I was a little intimidated because I thought it might be overwhelming. Once I jumped in, I looked forward to reading it every day. I learned a lot, and the index may be one the best I've ever seen.
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The latest edition demonstrates why Risanovsky's and Steinberg's text remains the standard for undergraduate Russian history courses. This well-balanced volume covers Russia from prehistory to present, including political, economic, social, and cultural history. The last two chapters, on Putin's Russia, could use a touch more editing and proofreading, but all in all fine work.
James Violand
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs
Shelves: own
A critical history text of the Russian people. Interestingly objective during the Cold War period. I used this text for a college course at Grove City College. It influenced my appreciation of other cultures.
Jennifer Hawran
Oct 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book (the 4th edition) when I was in college. I still have it, I love it that much. And now I know that there is an 11th edition, which I want to get. But I won't get rid of the book from college. For sentimental reasons, I guess.
Sep 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was fascinating to read, and extremely well-written. It was a long read for me, but I learned so much that it was completely worth it!! Russia has such an interesting history, and I can easily recommend this book to anyone who's interested in learning about it!
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