New Books Network

Michael David-Fox, “Showcasing the Great Experiment: Cultural Diplomacy and Western Visitors to the Soviet Union, 1921-1941” (OUP, 2011)
People who care about other places (and that’s not everyone) have always thought of Russia as a strange place. It doesn’t seem to “fit.” A good part of Russia is in Europe, but it’s not exactly “European.” Russia has natural resources galore, but it’s surprisingly poor. Russians have written a... Read More
Artemy Kalinovsky, “A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan” (Harvard UP, 2011)
It’s been twenty years since the Soviet Union collapsed, and scholars still joust over its long- and short-term causes. Amid the myriad factors–stagnating economy, reform spun out of control, globalization, nationalism–the Soviet war in Afghanistan figures in many narratives. Indeed, the ten-year intervention was the one of hottest and bloodiest... Read More
Jarrod Tanny, “City of Rogues and Schnorrers: Russia’s Jews and the Myth of Old Odessa” (Indiana UP, 2011)
“Ah, nostalgia is such an illness, and what a beautiful illness. There is no medicine for it! And thank God there isn’t.” This was how one of the Soviet Union’s most famous jazz singers and actors, Leonid Utyosov, concluded his memoirs. Utyosov was referring to his ironic relationship with the... Read More
Frank Wcislo, “Tales of Imperial Russia: The Life and Times of Sergei Witte, 1849-1915” (Oxford UP, 2011)
When it comes to Russia’s great reformers of the nineteenth century, Count Sergei Witte looms large. As a minster to both Alexander III and Nicholas II, Witte presided over some of the most important economic and political developments in the Old Regime’s last quarter century. As Finance Minister he oversaw... Read More
Rosamund Bartlett, “Tolstoy: A Russia Life” (Houghton Mifflin, 2011)
I vividly recall a time in my life–especially my late teens and early twenties–when I thought I could be anyone but had no idea which anyone to be. For this I blame (or credit) my liberal arts education, which convinced me that there was really nothing I couldn’t master but... Read More
Andrew Gentes, “Exile, Murder, and Madness in Siberia, 1823-1861” (Palgrave, 2010)
The Russian practice of exiling criminals, dissidents, and other marginal people to the remote corners of Siberia began in the 16th century as the Russian state conquered new lands in the east. Exile to Siberia continued in the Tsarist period and the Soviets expanded it into the vast penal system... Read More
Vera Tolz, “Russia’s Own Orient: The Politics of Identity and Oriental Studies in the late Imperial and Early Soviet Periods” (Oxford UP, 2011)
Everyone knows that the late nineteenth-century Russian Empire was the largest land based empire around, and that it was growing yet- at fifty-five square miles a day, no less. But how did Moscow and St. Petersberg go about making the bewildering array of peoples and ethnicities into subjects subject of... Read More
Steven Barnes, “Death and Redemption: The Gulag and the Shaping of Soviet Society” (Princeton UP, 2011)
Most Westerners know about the Gulag (aka “Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and Colonies”) thanks to Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s eloquent, heart-wrenching Gulag Archipelago. Since the publication of that book in 1973 (and largely thanks to it), the Gulag has come to symbolize the horrors of Stalinism. Made up of a... Read More