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A History of Twentieth-Century Russia [Anglais] [Broché]

Robert Service

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No imperial power before the First World War was more reviled in Europe than the Russian Empire. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  18 commentaires
56 internautes sur 57 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Well-written, well-researched overview of 20th century Soviet and Russian history 26 janvier 2006
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
First of all, it is important to note that I am not an expert in either Russian or 20th century history. Though I have spent a great deal of time reading about Russia and the Soviet Union over the last couple years, I would still consider myself a novice. Thus, this review is obviously written from the perspective of someone relatively new to the field.

Service's History of Modern Russia covers the entire 20th century, though it is relatively sparse post-1994. His handling of the material seems fair; he strives to cover material from a variety of viewpoints, showing both the positive and negative aspects of his subject matter. He covers Lenin, Stalin, WWII, and Khrushchev - along with all their policies, political maneuvers, and so on - in depth (at least as much as can be expected for 555 pages on 100 years!), and covers the Tsarist period, WWI, Brezhnev, and the early 1980s in the USSR in sufficient detail to easily follow the plot. The mild disparity in the treatment of various events and figures is not a flaw in his work; rather, his writing is directed to the more significant developments, of which there seem to be relatively few in the period of Brezhnev and the early 1980s (pre-Gorbachev); his ~40 pages on Brezhnev supply plenty of detail into the USSR from Khrushchev to the early `80s. In fact, I have found it difficult in general to find material on Brezhnev. For example, there are many biographies of Lenin, Stalin, and Khrushchev, but Amazon.com does not appear to carry even one on Brezhnev!

As a newcomer to the field of Russian history, culture, and language, I found Service's work to be readable, informative, and straightforward in its presentation, even when the narrative bogs down in groups of names doing this or that. His even treatment of the Soviet Union allowed me to see aspects of the USSR, Russia, and communism which I had not previously understood in a new light. I would have appreciated a short glossary for Soviet political positions and USSR governmental positions which simply defined the duties and responsibilities of various jobs (and perhaps their relative political or governmental clout, if such a thing were possible). It is not difficult to get bogged down in the myriad offices mentioned in the book.

I highly recommend this book as an introduction to the Soviet Union's beginnings, rise to power, and eventual decline and implosion. It covers a wealth of material in a short, readable space and is easily navigable. References are extensive, so further study could easily be pursued with Service as an overview and handy starting point.
30 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A good read 26 mai 2005
Par Seth J. Frantzman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Russia is the ultimate story, a story of grandeur of false hopes and shattered dreams. Churchill gave Russia that interesting title of the enigma inside the mystery inside the riddle. However this book does better by truly telling us the grand story of Russia, without the weakness of similar books on the subject. Many important subjects are covered, from the traditional tale of revolution, Stalin, stagnation, collapse.

Here the reader is treated to nuanced stories, such as Krushchevs suppression of the church which left only 7500 Churches ion Russia, whereas 12000 Mosques were left standing. Also evident is the population upheavals of the 1920s and 1930s. Equally important is a very good rendition of the complications of the Civil war and the creation of War communism. All the characters are given a fair portrait from Derzinsky, to Sverlov, to the obvious, such as Zinoviev and Stalin.

The successive chapters on the `mystery years' of Brezhnev is enlightening, to view a nation in stagnation. Although not as insightful as Volkoganov's expose on soviet leadership this book brings to light many tales and is a fascinating, easy digestion, that brings the reader up to date, with Vladimir Putin.

Seth J. Frantzman
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Great read 27 décembre 2006
Par Holff - Publié sur Amazon.com
Overview of Russia during the 20th Century with stops at the Revolutions, Lenin, Stalin Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Provides a historical basis for event occurring today by allowing historians and political scientists to hypothesize about what is yet to come. Well written by one of the prominent Russian historians today.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Well written narrative history of modern Russia 29 juin 2002
Par Virgil - Publié sur Amazon.com
There's no question that the Soviet regime was an indiscriminately ruthless entity. What is often overlooked is the fact that throughout it's existence it had the support of a large percentage of the population. This is often a bit shocking to Americans like myself who've spent time in Russia (even today many of the older generation still praise Krushchev for providing housing and dachas to the general populace).
In "A History of Twentieth Century Russia" Robert Service brings a well written general history that in many ways addresses this. Service identifies the origins of the great terror in the Bolshevik regimes early years and the ascension of Stalin to power. He also identifies many of the educational, medical and other services much of the population recieved. This doesn't mean that Service ignores the genocide that occurred under the Bolsheviks. Not at all. Service, as a historian, merely attempts a general history- the good, the bad and the ugly. Service correctly attempts to show why some elements of the population where willing to put up with certain measures beyond just the terror they were exposed to.
This is a good general history, more balanced and lacking the political bent that many American scholars often approach modern Russian history with. Service shows the brutality of the regime up front and as well as the constuctive changes that took place. And, as Service shows, these changes came at a very high price.
Very readable and highly recommended.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Not for the uninitiated. One should read "Natasha's Dance" by Orlando Figes first. 20 septembre 2008
Par I. Galis - Publié sur Amazon.com
This is primarily a comprehensive history of the entire Soviet Union and 1900-1917 Russian Empire, lest the emphasis on "Russia" in the title fool you.

As far as English-language works on Soviet history go (they're normally underinformed and lacking first-hand experience), this one is pretty good. On the political spectrum, Service is not a devout Anticommunist, although he does believe in the failure of Communism to efficiently allocate resources. He has a loose enthusiasm for the Russian people and nation, and this actually tints his vision towards being a little biased TOWARDS Russia, as unlikely as this might seem. Overall, what this means is that he's pretty objective, since his distaste for communism is balanced by his respect for the people, major and minor, behind it.

There's a lot of detail, and the book is very comprehensive.

However, if one has no knowledge of Russian history, it's better to sample the waters with Orlando Figes' "Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia" which covers a lot of ground in the history of Russia (largely pre-Soviet) in an original and exciting manner. That book is even more insightful into the reality of Russia's history than Service's book is. Furthermore, "Natasha's Dance" helps set the stage for a more detailed history of "Modern Russia," so that one can witness the "continuity and change" present in history.

With that said though, Service's history is the best English-language, 1-volume work on the history of the Soviet Union. It is also the best history of the past century of the Russian people and the Russian cultural entity.
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