A complete and useful book for general readers who want an overall view of Russia and some sense of historic determinants. In his preface the author states that three of his reasons for writing the history were to show the formative part played by the autocrats, the successive phases of the peasant question and the degree of continuity between the past and the present, and these he accomplishes with reasonable facility. Chronologically planned chapters are written in a tight, able style and beginning with the geographic configurations of the huge area, which account for both the endurance and the economic backwardness of its peoples, they move on to the migrations and confluences of the Carpathian Slavs and the Morsemen who settled in Kiev in the 5th century. Following the familiar events- the Byzantine influences, the rise of the Russian church, the 13th century Tatar and Mongal invasions, the rise of Muscovy, Ivan the Terrible and finally the Romanove who turned Russia's eyes west-ward- the outline is efficient and informative. Moving as it does into Communism and the revolutions, describing the events of 1917 as ""the sacrificial ardours of a belated industrial revolution"", both the reported facts and the sense of their reporting are up to the minute.