A good, old-fashioned, expansive history of Russia, big on names, dates, and events. This comprehensive account of court intrigues and politics--who-replaced-whom-when and who-conquered-what-where--is a history of the surface, but one that is narrated with sufficient sensitivity to give readers an idea of the depths. Besides, as histories go, there may be none more exciting than Russia's. Duffy and Ricci (The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, 1992, etc.) maintain an excellent pace, slowing down as events speed up, and providing plenty of intrigue along the way. A well-written and informative introduction.