Published Jan 2010
Historian Philip Longworth has written a highly readable, original, account of Russia’s imperial fortunes, tracing the pattern of creeping expansion alternating with abrupt collapse from earliest times to the present. The book shows how the unforgiving nature of their northern terrain stimulated a hunger for empire and contributed both to resilience of Russians and the brittle nature of their state. But it also tells the human stories of the empire-makers – grim Tsars, ambitious princesses, determined commissars, painstaking bureaucrats, venturesome generals, patriotic churchmen and, not least the patient, enduring, but sometimes volatile, masses, men and women, who, together with circumstances, shaped Russia’s imperial destinies. The book probes deep into the past to review a track record that will be of great value in assessing Russia’s future chances of world power.