Russia in the Twentieth Century (6th Edition)

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9780130978523: Russia in the Twentieth Century (6th Edition)

Widely hailed as the best concise history of Soviet Russia, this book offers balanced coverage of Russia's history—from last phase of the Tsarist regime to Vladamir Putin's accession to power in 1999. The new edition of this book explores post-communist Russia with discussions of non-communist parties, the Greek Orthodox Church, Yelstin, Putin, as well as Russia's development in the twenty-first century. For anyone interested in a complete history of Russia, or businessmen in need of a good reference book.

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From the Back Cover:

Based on five successful editions of A History of Soviet Russia and Its Aftermath, the complexities and paradoxes of the new Russia are explored in a new edition: Russia in the Twentieth Century, incorporating the entire saga of this important nation from 1894 to the present. Emphasizing the significance of unresolved ethnic and cultural issues, coupled with unresolved political and socioeconomic problems, Russia in the Twentieth Century begins with a historical narrative of the rule of the last monarch, Nicholas II, spans the 74 years of Communist rule, and concludes at the start of the twenty-first century, with the attempt to reform the core of the former Soviet Union in the form of a Russian Federation. As with previous editions, the text is accompanied by numerous maps, photos, tables, and an updated suggested reading list.

Topics include:
  • The last phase of the Tsarist Empire and its downfall
  • The years 1894-1917 and the Russian Revolution
  • Analysis of the Communist experiment and its impact on the rest of the world
  • The failure of Mikhail Gorbachev to save the Soviet regime in 1991
  • NEW—The attempts of Boris Yeltsin and Vladmir Putin to build the Russian Federation by implementing democratic and capitalist principles.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The twentieth century was the most turbulent period of Russia's millennial history. Even at its start, the country's impressive economic progress, achieved at great human cost, was profoundly affected by the humiliating defeat in the 1904-1905 war with Japan. The war, followed by a revolution, resulted in the establishment of a quasi-representative but not quite democratic constitutional regime. The painfully slow political evolution of the Tsarist empire was interrupted by the bloody and exhausting World War I, which started in 1914 and ended for Russia in 1917 largely as a result of the double revolution; the first one, which took place in March, overturned the autocratic Tsarist regime and replaced it with the democratic Provisional Government. The second revolution occurred in November 1917, when the democratic regime was overthrown by the Bolshevik coup d' éetat, which established the Communist dictatorship, headed by Vladimir Lenin. The Bolshevik coup was followed by a cruel, protracted civil war (1918-1921) and a radical Communist experiment that laid the foundations of a centralized economy.

The experiment involved the forcible industrialization and the collectivization of a still traditional, but tolerably functioning, agricultural system. Both experiments involved enormous suffering affecting millions of human beings, especially in Ukraine and Kazakstan. The brutal political, social, and economic changes imposed by Joseph Stalin were paralleled by the ubiquitous terror that culminated in the Great Purges of the 1930s: millions of people were incarcerated in labor camps, and up to one million executed. World War II and the German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941 resulted in multiple millions of military and civilian casualties and vast economic devastation.

The triumphant end of the war in 1945 did not bring about preservation of the meager political and religious liberties which Stalin felt necessary to concede to the Soviet people in order to stimulate the effort necessary to win "the Great Patriotic War." Quite the contrary, soon after its end, Stalin, by then master of a vast satellite empire, reimposed his terror involving large-scale arrests and frequent executions of individuals suspected of disloyalty to the Communist system. As a result of World War II, the Soviet Union became the second superpower, threatening its rival, the United States, with nuclear annihilation. Despite some brilliant achievements in military technology, rocketry, and space travel, the masses of the Soviet people continued their miserable existence, and were driven by their Communist rulers to more and more ruinous sacrifices in the name of distant, utopian objectives. At the same time, nationality problems proved to be a time bomb implanted at the foundation of the Soviet empire.

The forty-year long military arms race with the United States, known as the "Cold War," lasted from the late 1940s to the late 1980s, impoverished the Soviet masses and resulted in the undermining of the already obsolete, grossly inefficient economy. The effort to project Soviet power into the Caribbean, Middle East, and Africa further weakened the overcentralized and increasingly malfunctioning system. Its back was finally broken by the debilitating, fruitless war in Afghanistan that finally, exposed the weakness of the outwardly impressive but ineffective Soviet military machine. The deepening psychological exhaustion and dissatisfaction with the oppressive regime, unable to satisfy many of the most basic needs of the broad masses, resulted in a series of sudden upheavals.

First, the increasingly restless satellite empire fell apart in 1989. This was followed by the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, which was replaced by the Commonwealth of Independent States. The demoralization and disintegration of the central Communist Party system and governmental machine was paralleled by civil disorder, a painful economic crisis and two bloody and humiliating wars against the breakaway republic of Chechnya, conducted by the real heir of the former Soviet Union, the Russian Federation.

The Federation has suffered not only from a near permanent political and economic crisis, but also from a psychological malaise among Russia's political elites. As a consequence of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia's frontiers dramatically shrank: loss of the Baltic republics, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, deprived Russia of access to the Baltic Sea; the establishment of an independent Ukraine barred the Federation from the Black Sea; and the rise of three Caucasian states and five Central Asian republics limited Russia's role in the Euroasiatic area. All these setbacks, so painful to the national pride, left the Russian political elite frustrated. If one adds the environmental and demographic problems left behind by the vanished Communist system, the tragic situation of Russia at the end of the, twentieth century could hardly be underestimated.

The book is divided into three unequal parts. Part I, besides providing some basic information about Russia, deals with the last declining period of the Tsarist regime (Chapters 1-6). The second part (Chapters 7-24) covers the seventy-four years of the Communist rule. Part III deals with the fall of the Soviet state and the formation of the Russian Federation in 1991 (Chapters 25-26).

The story of the Communist rule over this vast Euroasiatic space, some one-sixth of the earth, makes up the bulk of the book. There are some basic, distinctive features that are discernable throughout the entire narrative.

The story of the Communist Party's evolution away from Marxist orthodoxy in the direction of Great Russian nationalism is one of the predominant themes of the book. In all editions I have tried to show how the initial Communist evangelic ardor was gradually fused with traditional Muscovite nationalism and how it was carefully camouflaged by Marxist verbiage. This thesis has been fully vindicated by subsequent developments, especially those following the disintegration of the Communist regime. I have also tried to illustrate how the geopolitical origins of the Muscovite-Russian state have been increasingly visible throughout the Soviet and post-Soviet phases of Russian history. One of the most characteristic features of this return to the past has been the revival of the historic and religious roots of Russian culture.

Another distinctive feature of the book has been the stress on the multinational features of the former Soviet empire and the largely unsuccessful attempts to Russify the other ethnic groups under the guise of creating "a new Soviet man." These attempts at disguised Russification have been increasingly opposed by the many other ethnic groups of which the USSR was composed. That is why this book has paid a great deal of attention to the centripetal, as well as centrifugal, trends within the former Soviet empire.

A large part of the book is devoted to the twenty-nine-year period of 1924-1953, to the phantasmagoric era of Stalin, who influenced much of the political reality of the `Soviet Union, and even its aftermath, the Russian Federation as well as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Any history of Russia that has to straddle the imperial and the Soviet periods faces many problems. Among them is the unavoidable issue of the calendars. Until February 1918, Russia used the Julian calendar, which in the twentieth century was thirteen days behind the Western, or Gregorian, calendar. Hence, the Russians speak of the "February Revolution" when referring to the downfall of the Tsarist regime in Petrograd (February 27) > while for us it is the revolution of March 12, 1917. The abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, which according to the old-style calendar took place on March 2, for us occurred on March 15. Lenin returned from Switzerland to Petrograd on April 3, according to the Julian calendar, but on April 16, according to ours. Finally, the "Great October Proletarian Revolution," which, according to the Julian calendar, was carried out on October 25, for us was accomplished on November 7. In order to avoid confusion, both dates are given for events prior to January 1918, when the Western calendar was introduced in Russia.

Another problem is that of the spelling of Russian words. There is, unfortunately, no universally accepted system of transliteration of Russian into English. On the whole, the book favors transliteration rather than phonetic transcription, but tends to accept well-established traditional spelling of East Slavic names as easier on the student.

While preparing my book, I was ably and unselfishly assisted by Bill Myers, my former graduate student at Boston University. I am also grateful to my former student from the University of Wisconsin, Charlie Schaefer, for proofreading parts of the book, and my wife, Ada, for helping me with the preparation of the sixth edition. My warm thanks go to my friend and colleague, Professor of geography at the U.W.M., Dr. Paul E. Lydolph, for kindly allowing me to use statistical tables from the supplement to his excellent Geography of the U.S.S.R. My editor, Barbara Christenberry, greatly helped me in correcting this version of the manuscript and I wish to thank her for her efforts.

I am also greatly indebted to the Russian Research Center of Harvard University, with which I was connected from 1949 to 1968. The stimulating atmosphere of the Center and the contacts provided by it have been most helpful for preparing this book.

M. K. DZIEWANOWSKI
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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