A doughty chronicle by a well-known popular historian who draws his material together with banal apothegms on power, reality, revolution, etc., rather than solid analysis. The past few years have produced a number of more serious studies on all levels of generality which render this book rather supererogatory--especially since Fischer seems unaware that one could condemn Stalin without upholding the author's thesis of chronic Soviet aggression. Fischer ignores revisionist scholarship; nonetheless; the Allied intervention of 1917-21 gives him some trouble. He recovers by imputing ""paranoia"" to the beleaguered Bolsheviks, and goes on to depict the late '30's as a quest for lost tsarist domains. Few serious works of any political color now agree that the Russo-German war represented a clash between ""two expanding totalitarian empires,"" and Fischer's observation that Soviet territorial gains backfired hardly proves that they weren't intended as buffer states for defensive security. Oversimplifications (the ""Procapitalist NEP"") and blatant distortions (Russia ""fomenting"" Chinese revolution in 1927) are not redeemed by Fischer's personal recollections of Litvinov and Juan Negrin. Specialists will wince and students will find the book something of a chore.