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This book explores the role of empire in world history. What does it mean to be an empire? How does one empire differ from another? Why does an empire rise and why fall? Why have empires flourished in some eras and regions of the world but not in others?;On an unusually wide canvas, Dominic Lieven addresses all these questions. His central focus is on the rise and fall of empire in Russia and the Soviet Union. The dynamics of empire's history in Russia are explored through comparisons not only between the tsarist and Soviet periods but also between Russia, its great contemporaries and rivals of the Ottoman, Habsburg and British empires, and a broad range of other cases from ancient China to Rome to the present-day United States, Indonesia, India and the European Union.;Dominic Lieven shows that many of empire's dilemmas still have their force in today's world. His perspective throws light on the current crisis in the former USSR by comparing post-Soviet problems and dangers with the upheavals caused by the collapse of other leading powers' empires.A fresh view of many of today's most intractable issues is also provided, from the troubles in Ulster to ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and the fate of Russian, British, German and Asian diasporas stranded by the collapse of empire. ;Here is history on the grandest scale. Dominic Lieven questions assumptions, raises unexpected questions and approaches familiar historical topics from unfamiliar Russian angles. He combines formidable erudition with stimulating readability.
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Walter Liedtke is curator in the department of European paintings and Michiel C. Plomp is associate curator in the department of drawings and prints at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Axel Rüger is curator of Dutch paintings at the National Gallery, London.
Dominic Lieven, a former Kennedy scholar at Harvard University, is professor of Russian government at the London School of Economics. Among his many publications are the highly praised Nicholas II and Russia's Rulers Under the Old Regime, published by Yale University Press.From Publishers Weekly:
Lieven's compelling assessment of the forces behind the decline of political imperialism tend to sink from view in his dense, far-reaching historical investigation. The first chapter's discussion of the shifting definitions of empire, though at times taxing to the reader's attention, is astute and evenhanded. With the czarist and Soviet empires as his primary focus, Lieven (Russia's Rulers Under the Old Regime) bolsters his study with treatments of various empires, beginning with ancient China and Rome. His expertise on czarist Russia informs the book's outstanding section on this period. Lieven, professor at the London School of Economics, argues that the Russian empire was stronger than the declining Ottoman and Hapsburg empires and, in the 19th century, exerted power comparable to that of the British Empire. He explicates the role of World War I in the downfall of the czarist regime cleanly and convincingly: wartime preoccupation and weakening of Russian elites and of capitalist Europe precluded significant counterrevolution. And while a variety of external and domestic forces contributed to the demise of the Soviet empire, Lieven attributes much to the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. In the end, he says, the U.S.S.R. was likely the last empire in the strict sense of the word: "The lesson of Soviet history is that empire does not pay in today's world, even in terms of its own narrow priorities of power." The book's broad, scholarly worldview will appeal to a readership of academics and lay historians. (Mar.)
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