A Concise History of Russia (Cambridge Concise Histories) by Paul Bushkovitch

By Paul Bushkovitch

Available to scholars, travelers, and basic readers alike, this e-book offers a vast assessment of Russian historical past because the 9th century. Paul Bushkovitch emphasizes the large adjustments within the figuring out of Russian background as a result of the tip of the Soviet Union in 1991. on account that then, new fabric has come to mild at the historical past of the Soviet period, supplying new conceptions of Russia's pre-revolutionary prior. The e-book strains not just the political background of Russia, but in addition advancements in its literature, artwork, and technological know-how. Bushkovitch describes famous cultural figures, akin to Chekhov, Tolstoy, and Mendeleev of their institutional and old contexts. even though the 1917 revolution, the ensuing Soviet process, and the chilly conflict have been a vital a part of Russian and global historical past, Bushkovitch provides previous advancements as greater than only a prelude to Bolshevik strength.

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Weaning Russia from the bottle will take generations, requiring consistent efforts to change perceptions of the appropriateness of getting drunk, altering destructive drinking habits, and overhauling Russia’s ramshackle healthcare infrastructure. indd 14 11/26/2013 2:16:24 AM Vod k a Poli ti c s 15 legitimacy. It should come as no surprise then that generations of Russian autocrats—tsarist, communist, and post-Soviet—have initiated “crash” sobriety initiatives and that each and every one failed within the span of a few months or years.

16 While his conquering armies expanded the borders of the Russian state, the increasingly powerful and paranoid Ivan took pleasure in drunken debauchery, quiet prayer, and the slow and methodical torture of his would-be rivals at court. “The spurts of blood, the cracking of bones, the screams and rattles of drooling mouths—this rough cookery smelling of pus, excrement, sweat, and burnt flesh was pleasing to his nostrils,” wrote popular French historian Henri Troyat. “He took such joy in the bloodbath that he had no doubt, in these moments of horror and ecstasy, that the Lord was at his side.

Vodka helped keep the Russian people docile and passive, yet vodka has played a role in every Russian coup d’état and hastened every Russian revolution. Vodka has toasted international peace and helped bring Russia to the brink of war. Vodka has occasionally saved Russia from foreign invasion but, more often, hastened its military’s defeat. And just as vodka politics facilitated the demise of the imperial Russian empire, a century later it helped do-in its Soviet successor as well. Vodka is not only the source of immeasurable revenue; it also is used as currency.

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