A Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, has written a scholarly one volume history of Russia which should fill a vital need. Unfortunately, it reads like a thesis it lacks that spark of color and drama that are imperative if the jigsaw puzzle of Russia's complex history is to be made intelligible and interesting to the layman. This text seems to me to have drained an exciting history of all its potentials: -ad- venture and romance and agony and idealism and brutalities aid personalities -- all are merged in a coldly analytical approach via modern lines. The one challenge in the approach is that the writer starts each section with Soviet Russia -- and then turns back the pages, cross sectioning the chronology as he studies Russia from various angles. The expanding frontier, the state and its varied mediums; the land and the age long morass of serfdom; the church; the development of Panslavism (this was the most vital part of the book); the struggle for a sea outlet; the contacts with the outer world, east and west. The facts are here, swathed in scholarly research. But the book is dull and verbose and disappointing.