TEACH & RESEARCH RUSSIA

Studying Russia: An Overview of the Main Textbooks

September 13, 2022
How do we study Russia? What do we get, what did we miss? How can we reinvent the way we have been studying Russia? Mack Tubridy guides us through the main textbooks on Russia.
Source: Duke University Press
Title: Developments in Russian Politics, 9th Edition
Author: Richard Sakwa, Henry E. Hale, Stephen White
Year: 2019
Subject: Political science

Summary

In the 9th edition of Developments in Russian Politics an international team of experts provides a clearly written and comprehensive account of Russia’s most recent developments, offering critical discussions of key areas in contemporary domestic and foreign politics. All essays are either new or comprehensively rewritten for this volume and examine topics ranging from executive leadership, political parties, and elections to newer issues of national identity, protest, and Russia and greater Eurasia. They also address the military, parliamentary politics, the economy, social inequality, and media and political communication in the digital age. Reflecting the changing nature of Russian politics in a globalizing world defined by ever-shifting balances of power and Russia’s tensions with the West, Developments in Russian Politics remains the best introduction to the politics of the world's largest nation. Its readable and succinct format is useful for beginners and advanced scholars alike.

Link to the book here.
Source: Cambridge University Press
Title: The Cambridge History of Russia
Author: Ronald Grigor Suny, Maureen Perrie, Dominic Lieven
Year: 2006
Subject: History

Summary

The Cambridge History of Russia provides a three volume chronological account of the history of Russia in all its aspects – political, social, economic, cultural – from early Rus' to 2000. Geographically, volumes in the series encompass the territories ruled by the Ryurikid dynasty and by their successors the Romanovs to 1917, and the lands of the Soviet Union to 2000. Written by leading international experts and incorporating the very latest research, The Cambridge History of Russia constitutes an innovative and comprehensive work of reference for a generation.

This first volume covers the period from early ('Kievan') Rus' to the start of Peter the Great's reign in 1689. It surveys the development of Russia through the Mongol invasions to the expansion of the Muscovite state in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and deals with political, social, economic and cultural issues under the Riurikid and early Romanov rulers.

The second volume covers the imperial period (1689–1917). It encompasses political, economic, social, cultural, diplomatic, and military history. All the major Russian social groups have separate chapters and the volume also includes surveys on the non-Russian peoples and the government's policies towards them. It addresses themes such as women, law, the Orthodox Church, the police and the revolutionary movement.

The third volume provides an authoritative political, intellectual, social and cultural history of the trials and triumphs of Russia and the Soviet Union during the twentieth century. It encompasses not only the ethnically Russian part of the country but also the non-Russian peoples of the tsarist and Soviet multinational states and of the post-Soviet republics. The contributors attempt to go beyond the divisions that marred the historiography of the USSR during the Cold War to look for new syntheses and understandings. The volume is also the first major undertaking by historians and political scientists to use the new primary and archival sources that have become available since the break-up of the USSR.

Link to the book here.
Source: Routledge Taylor & Francis
Title: Russian Cultural Anthropology after the Collapse of Communism
Author: Albert Baiburin, Catriona Kelly, Nikolai Vakhtin
Year: 2012
Subject: Cultural anthropology

Summary

In Soviet times, anthropologists in the Soviet Union were closely involved in the state’s work of nation building. They helped define official nationalities, and gathered material about traditional customs and suitably heroic folklore, whilst at the same time refraining from work on the reality of contemporary Soviet life. Since the end of the Soviet Union anthropology in Russia has been transformed. International research standards have been adopted, and the focus of research has shifted to include urban culture and difficult subjects, such as xenophobia. However, this transformation has been, and continues to be, controversial, with, for example, strongly contested debates about the relevance of Western anthropology and cultural theory to post-Soviet reality. This book presents an overview of how anthropology in Russia has changed since Soviet times, and showcases examples of important Russian anthropological work. As such, the book will be of great interest not just to Russian specialists, but also to anthropologists more widely, and to all those interested in the way academic study is related to prevailing political and social conditions.

Link to the book here.
Source: Cambridge University Press
Title: An Environmental History of Russia
Author: Paul Josephson, Nicolai Dronin, Ruben Mnatsakanian, Aleh Cherp, Dmitry Efremenko, Vladislav Larin
Year: 2013
Subject: Area Studies, History, Regional History after 1500, European Studies, Russian and East European History

Summary

The former Soviet empire spanned eleven time zones and contained half the world's forests; vast deposits of oil, gas and coal; various ores; major rivers such as the Volga, Don and Angara; and extensive biodiversity. These resources and animals, as well as the people who lived in the former Soviet Union - Slavs, Armenians, Georgians, Azeris, Kazakhs and Tajiks, indigenous Nenets and Chukchi - were threatened by environmental degradation and extensive pollution. This environmental history of the former Soviet Union explores the impact that state economic development programs had on the environment. The authors consider the impact of Bolshevik ideology on the establishment of an extensive system of nature preserves, the effect of Stalinist practices of industrialization and collectivization on nature, and the rise of public involvement under Khrushchev and Brezhnev, and changes to policies and practices with the rise of Gorbachev and the break-up of the USSR. An Environmental History of Russia gives a broad sweep of Russia’s environmental heritage, covering topics of geography, nature preservation, urban, industrial, and agricultural development, policies, practices, and pollution. This well-written, comprehensive account is valuable for Russian or environmental history collections, as well as a great introduction to Russian environmental history for a broad spectrum of readers from undergraduate students to seasoned scholars.

Link to the book here.
Source: Routledge Taylor & Francis
Title: Routledge Handbook of Russian Politics and Society
Author: Graeme Gill, James Young
Year: 2011
Subject: Political science, international relations, political economy

Summary

Through both empirical data and theoretical investigation each chapter in the Routledge Handbook Russian of Politics and Society examines both the Russian experience and existing academic literature, points to research trends, and identifies issues that remain to be resolved. Offering focused studies of the key elements of Russian social and political life, the book is organized into broad themes like Russia’s political institutions, political economy, society, and foreign policy. Politically, economically, and socially, Russia has one of the most interesting development trajectories of any major country. This Handbook seeks to answer questions about democratic transition, the relationship between the market and democracy, stability and authoritarian politics, the development of civil society, the role of crime and corruption, and the creation of a market economy. Providing a comprehensive resource for scholars and policy makers alike, this book is an important contribution to the study of Russian Studies, Eastern European studies, and International Relations.

Link to the book here.
Source: Routledge Taylor & Francis
Title: Routledge Handbook of Russian Security
Author: Roger E. Kanet
Year: 2019
Subject: Military and security studies, political science, international relations

Summary

The Routledge Handbook of Russian Security offers a comprehensive collection of essays on all aspects of Russian security and foreign policy by international scholars from across the world. The volume identifies key contemporary topics of research and debate and takes into account the changes that have occurred in the study of Russian security strategy since the end of the Cold War. The handbook is organized into five sections: The theory and nature of Russian security policy; The domestic and foreign policy nexus, Instruments used by Russia in pursuing its security; Global and regional aspects of Russian security and foreign policy. The book concludes with case studies of major examples of Russian involvement and operations in a series of security conflicts, including that in Georgia, the intervention in Ukraine and occupation of Crimea, and the ongoing Civil War in Syria. This volume will be of great interest to students of Russian security, strategic studies, foreign policy, European politics, and International Relations in general.

Link to the book here.
Source: Oxford University Press
Title: The Soviet Experiment:
Russia, the USSR, and the Successor States (2nd edition)
Author: Ronald Suny
Year: 2010
Subject: History

Summary

The Soviet Experiment examines the complex themes of Soviet history, ranging from the last tsar of the Russian empire to the first president of the Russian republic. Author Ronald Grigor Suny, one of the most eminent Soviet historians of our time, examines the legacies left by former Soviet leaders and explores successor states and the challenges they now face. He captures familiar as well as little-known events—the crowds on the streets during the February Revolution, Stalin's collapse into a near-catatonic state after Hitler's invasion, and Yeltsin's political maneuvering and public grandstanding—combining gripping detail with insightful analysis. The Soviet Experiment is well-written and accessible, fully appropriate for undergraduates.

Link to the book here.
Source: Wiley
Title: Across the Revolutionary Divide: Russia and the USSR, 1861-1945
Author: Theodore R. Weeks
Year: 2010
Subject: History

Summary

Across the Revolutionary Divide offers a broad interpretive account of Russian history from the emancipation of the serfs to the end of World War II. The book reflects the latest scholarship by taking a thematic approach to Russian history and bridging the ‘revolutionary divide’ of 1917, covering political, economic, cultural, and everyday life issues during a period of major changes in Russian history. This approach makes it clear that certain characteristics were present in both tsarist and Soviet times, and that significant continuities were evident within the political and social aspects of revolutionary Russia. Throughout the book, Weeks addresses the diversity of national groups, cultures, and religions in the Russian Empire and USSR.

Link to the book here.
Source: Oxford University Press
Title: A History of Russia (9th edition)
Author: Nicholas V. Riasanovsky and Mark D. Steinberg
Year: 2018
Subject: History

Summary

The 9th edition of A History of Russia covers the entire span of the country's history, from ancient times to the post-communist present. Keeping with the hallmark of the text, Riasanovsky and Steinberg examine all aspects of Russia's history--political, international, military, economic, social, and cultural--with a commitment to objectivity, fairness, and balance, and to reflecting recent research and new trends in scholarly interpretation. In the 9th edition, this includes expanded attention to the experiences of ordinary men and women and to imperial expansion and diversity. Extensively revised and with a more streamlined organization, A History of Russia includes recent developments in Ukraine and Russia's near abroad in the Putin era.

Link to the book here.
Source: Wiley
Title: A Companion to Russian Cinema
Author: Birgit Beumers
Year: 2016
Subject: Film studies

Summary

A Companion to Russian Cinema provides an exhaustive and carefully organized guide to the cinema of pre-Revolutionary Russia, of the Soviet era, as well as post-Soviet Russian cinema, edited by one of the most established and knowledgeable scholars in Russian cinema studies. The book offers some of the most up-to-date and thorough coverage of Russian, Soviet and post-Soviet cinema, which also effectively fills gaps in the existing scholarship in the field. It is also the first volume on Russian cinema to explore specifically the history of movie theaters, studios, and educational institutions. Chapters in the book consider the art of scriptwriting, sound, production design, costumes and cinematography, as well as provide portraits of key figures in Soviet and Russia film history, whose works have been somewhat neglected

Link to the book here.
Source: Wiley
Title: Contemporary Russian Politics: An Introduction
Author: Neil Robinson
Year: 2018
Subject: Political science

Summary

In this book, Neil Robinson places contemporary Russian politics in historical perspective to argue that Putin’s regime has not overcome the problems that underpinned the momentous changes in twentieth-century Russian history when the country veered from tsarism to Soviet rule to post-communist chaos. The first part of the book, outlining why crises have been perennial problems for Russia, is followed by an exploration of contemporary Russian political institutions and policy to show how Putin has stabilized Russian politics. But, while Putin’s achievements as a politician have been considerable in strengthening his personal position, they have not dealt successfully with the enduring problem of the Russian state’s functionality. Like other Russian rulers, Putin has been much better at establishing a political system that supports his rule than he has at building up a state that can deliver material wealth and protection to the Russian people. As a result, Robinson argues, Russia has been and remains vulnerable to political crisis and regime change. This up-to-date and analytically fresh perspective on the political development of post-Soviet Russia is recommended reading for any course on contemporary Russian politics.

Link to the book here.
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