New Books Network

Abbott Gleason, “A Liberal Education” (TidePool Press, 2010)
I fear that most people think that “history” is “the past” and that the one and the other live in books. But it just ain’t so. History is a story we tell about the past, or rather some small portion of it. The past itself is gone and cannot, outside... Read More
David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, “Russian Orientalism” (Yale UP, 2010)
There’s a saying, sometimes attributed to Napoleon, “Scratch a Russian and you find a Tatar.” I’ve scratched a Russian (I won’t say anything more about that) and I can tell you that the saying is false: all I found was more Russian. It’s true, however, that Russians have always known... Read More
Norman Naimark, “Stalin’s Genocides” (Princeton UP, 2010)
Absolutely no one doubts that Stalin murdered millions of people in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. His ruthless campaign of “dekulakization,” his pitiless deportation of “unreliable” ethnic groups, his senseless starvation of Ukrainian peasants, his cruel attempt to “cleanse” the Communist Party of supposed “enemies of the people”–all of these... Read More
John Steinberg, “All the Tsar’s Men: Russia’s General Staff and the Fate of the Empire, 1898-1914” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2010)
The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 was the most important political event of the twentieth century (no Revolution; no Nazis; no Nazis, no World War II; no World War II, no Cold War). It’s little wonder, then, that historians have expended oceans of effort and ink trying to explain why and... Read More
Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, “The Anti-Imperial Choice: The Making of the Ukrainian Jew” (Yale UP, 2009)
I’ve got a name for you: Robert Zimmerman (aka Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham). You’ve heard of him. He was a Jewish kid from Hibbing, Minnesota. But he didn’t (as the stereotype would suggest) become a doctor, lawyer, professor or businessman. Nope, the professions were not for him. He loved the... Read More
Charles King, “The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus” (Oxford UP, 2008)
There’s a concept I find myself coming back to again and again–“speciation.” It’s drawn from the vocabulary of evolutionary biology and means, roughly, the process by which new species arise. Speciation occurs when a species must adapt to new circumstances; the more new circumstances, the more new species. Thus one... Read More
Rebecca Manley, “To the Tashkent Station: Evacuation and Survival in the Soviet Union at War” (Cornell UP, 2009)
By the time the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the Bolshevik Party had already amassed a considerable amount of expertise in moving masses of people around. Large population transfers (to put it mildly) were part and parcel of building socialism. Certain “elements” needed to be sent... Read More