A HISTORY OF RUSSIA by John Lawrence


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This is a useful one-volume history of Russia, from the most ancient times to the present, told as a connected and intelligible whole. ""Its aim"", writes the author, ""is not to say the last word on any subject, but to direct attention to those forces which have made Russia what she is and are now making her what she will be."" It is, at the same time, a history of the Russian people, in which the author examines those physical and spiritual factors which have had the greatest influence in shaping the Russian national character. Thus it is something of importance to know about the geography and climate of the country in order to understand how these two factors have influenced Russian character and shaped events in Russian history. He also goes into the religion of the Russians and demonstrates the effects it has had on Russia's cultural evolution. For example, the fact that Old Slovanic was used as the church language of Eastern Orthodoxy eliminated the need for studying Greek and thus shut the Russians off from intellectual stimulation for many centuries during the Medieval period. Also the influence of Byzantine ideas taught the Russians by degrees to look for their political ideal in a mighty unified state under an absolute ruler served by a faithful bureaucracy. It is interesting to see how Trotsky in the days of Stalin attributed this political ideal to an entirely different historical principle. Many such interesting aspects of Russian history come to the fore in this excellent book. The last third of the history is devoted to the post-Revolution period with all its complications. The author has done a notable job in outlining the many events and forces of this period with great clarity and comprehensiveness.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy