Review: Russia and the RussiansEditorial Review - Kirkus Reviews
An ambitious attempt to explain the essence of the Russian people and their empire. Hosking (History/Univ. of London) builds on the central question posed in Russia: People and Empire 1552–1917 (1997): How do the Russians define themselves—by geography, language, culture, or empire? Not surprisingly (considering the nation's vast land mass, generally unforgiving climate, and often hostile neighbors), geography ranks high here. Despite its autocratic history, the Russian empire has always been essentially decentralized, with the village at its core. Although governing elites made numerous attempts to impose their will on the people, whether through Soviet collectivization or Peter the Great's reforms, in Hosking's view these efforts typically succumbed to failure for a number of reasons, the most obvious being inadequate infrastructure but the most telling being the masses' innate distrust of the elites. The concept of pravda (defined by Hosking as "the collective wisdom of the community") informed the core of Russian values—not the decrees emanating from Moscow. From the perspective of the peasant, change meant risk, and in a life of precarious subsistence, risk was unacceptable. Of course, the disconnect between the rulers and the ruled did not completely protect the powerless; in the last century alone, collectivization and war caused tremendous suffering. Moreover, the inability of the ruling class to impose reforms meant that the nation lagged consistently behind the West with respect to material comforts. Given the scope of his subject, it goes without saying that the preceding observations represent but one of many themes developed at length by Hosking. Though his thinking is often unconventional, he organizes his account in a traditional manner, taking his structure from the successive governments that tried to control the vast empire. Exhaustive and thought-provoking, but also a surprisingly good introduction for the lay reader. (34 halftones, 14 maps, 1 table, not seen)
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A very thorough history that explains the cultural vulnerability of Russia to socialism and it's many missteps and brutalities. Finally, the context for Russia's turn to collectivism is clarified and it's painful rejection of it chronicled.
Yes, it is a long read but not boring. I picked it up quite by accident and couldn't put it down (well I read a little of it every night for months). It was well worth it.
I find that, given today's issues in the US and Europe, it is very instructive to read histories of rising and falling states and empires. This book will not disappoint.
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This book is an excellent introduction to Russian history. While it does not sufficiently cover every aspect of Russian history in great detail, it does offer profound insight into the past of the country. An eye-opening account that I would recommend to anyone who ever wonders how Russia came to be Russia. It illuminates, in the case of this particular country, just how much our past influences who we are.
Review: Russia and the Russians: A HistoryUser Review - Eddy Allen - Goodreads
From the Carpathians in the west to the Greater Khingan range in the east, a huge, flat expanse dominates the Eurasian continent. Here, over more than a thousand years, the history and destiny of ... Read full review
Review: Russia and the Russians: A HistoryUser Review - Mitchell Tsai - Goodreads
Lots of information, but verrrry tedious reading. I even started reading backwards chapter by chapter. There's a lot I learned beyond my college Russian history & government classes. One example is ... Read full review
Review: Russia and the Russians: A HistoryUser Review - Chuck - Goodreads
Long on detail, short on context, particularly in the early periods. Read full review
Review: Russia and the Russians: A HistoryUser Review - Bob - Goodreads
A bare bones survey history that traces the tenacity of political traditions that define what the author views as distinctively "Russian." Read full review
Review: Russia and the Russians: A HistoryUser Review - Lorraine - Goodreads
Wonderful comprehensive history. Read full review
Review: Russia and the RussiansUser Review - Steven - Goodreads
Amazing overview of what we now know as Russia - from the earliest appearance by the Russians in 860 right up to the start of Putin's reign at the turn of the century. Hosking's approach - to look at ... Read full review
Review: Russia and the Russians: A HistoryUser Review - Margo Edwards - Goodreads
I wanted a "real" survey of Russian history, not a "for dummies" book, but this was a little too scholarly for me. Very dense and took a long time to get through it. Read full review