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Authors: by Nicholas V. Riasanovsky (Author), Mark D. Steinberg (Author)
Now extensively revised in this ninth edition, 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 ninth 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, Ninth Edition, includes recent developments in Ukraine and Russia’s near abroad in the Putin era.
The ninth edition of A Histon; of Russia has been very extensively revised. The seventh edition, the first with my participation, saw considerable change in certain areas, especially revisions reflecting new research on the late-imperial and Soviet eras and expanded coverage of the postcommunist years. The eighth addition, which appeared the year that Nicholas Riasanovsky passed away, included some revisions of the narrative and interpretation before 1855 and additional updates of the late imperial, Soviet, and post-Soviet eras.
This ninth edition has been revised with the same goals as before: to reflect new research, new questions, and ne'”” interpretations. In particular, I have expanded attention to the experiences and voices of less privileged groups, to women in all classes (and the question of gender), and to non-Russians (and the question of empire). Indeed, I have made the history of imperial expansion and diversity much more central to the history of Russia. I have again updated the history of Russia after communism, especially the era of Putin. Finally, I have shortened the length of the book by tightening some of the more detailed
Frankly, it is a weighty responsibility to be continuing the work of Nicholas Riasanovsky, ‘””ho devoted more than half a century of hard and careful work to successive editions of A History of Russia. I am very cognizant of the strength of his approach, amid all the changing fashions of historiographical method: careful attention to documentable facts, recognition of conflicting and changing interpretations, every attempt to ensure balance and fairness, and an inclusive and complex vie'”” of history that attends not only to the actions of rulers but also to political ideologies, economics, social relations, intellectual
history, culture, and the arts. I try to hold on to these principles as I revise his magisterial but never stagnant text.
The task of the historian, Riasanovsky believed, is to work both with and against one’s beliefs, in the pursuit of care, balance, and fairness. In an oral history intervie'”” in 1996, he remarked that “My father [a noted Russian academic himself], ‘””ho knew various groups of people, said by far the best people- balanced, judicious, extremely careful in ‘””hat they do- were judges, not professors.” The son, like the father, tried to follow this judicial approach in his own work. In this light, he titled his book ‘1’1 History of Russia” not “The History of Russia.” The reason he wanted the book to be continually revised
is because he knew that once it stopped questioning its own account with new information and interpretations the text would begin to die.
In his 1996 intervie~,, Riasanovsky observed that “history is everything,” and A HistonJ of Russia has from the first aimed for exceptional comprehensiveness, including poetry and painting alongside wars and Jaws, political events but also social and economic structures, official policies along with currents of social and cultural thought- and how these all might connect. I should not have been surprised, therefore, when he readily agreed with my suggestions that we do more to develop newer themes and points of view- more social history, especially the experiences of workers and peasants, more on women
and gender, more on non-Russians and empire, more on popular culture. I bring my own preoccupations as a historian to this text, especially “history from below” and history focused on diverse human “experience”- ideas, expectations, and emotions in relation to material and lived realities. But I have found that these fit very well with Riasanovsky’s attachment to facts, fairness, balance, and breadth.
Riasanovsky could be wonderfully eloquent and witty, especially in person (he loved to tell jokes) but also as a writer. I have tried to preserve these moments in the text. I will never be as erudite or well-rounded a historian as he was, so I have tried to keep his voice strong here. I have made a great many changes, some of which he might not agree with. Originally, I mailed these to him and we talked over every change by telephone. He was always a generous co-author but also had a sharp critical mind and a vast wealth of knowledge. I like to imagine that I can still hear his opinions.
My greatest indebtedness is to Riasanovsky himself. I want also to thank, given the breadth of history this text embraces, my other teachers in Russian history and culture over the years: Peter Kenez, John Ackerman, Victoria Bonnell, Grigory Freidin, and Reginald Zelnik, as well as many teachers in other fields, and my Russian history and literature colleagues at Illinois, especially Diane Koenker, John Randolph, Harriet Murav, Valeria Sobol, and Lilya Kaganovsky, from whom I continue to learn. No less, I am indebted to the many scholars whose books I have relied upon, from classics in the field to the most
recent scholarship. In the traditional style of this textbook, there are no footnotes documenting the many writings I draw upon- obscuring my debts in a ~ray I would never tolerate in student writing! But these debts are legion.
Everything here owes something to others. Many Russian history instructors, at the request of Oxford University Press, read the eighth edition and offered very useful critical comments. I am grateful to Guangqiu Xu, Sergei I. Zhuk, Gail Lenhoff, Charles Evans, Willard Sunderland, Mark B. Tauger, and the anonymous scholars and teachers who reviewed this new edition of A History of Russia. At my request, Gary Marker, a distinguished historian and also a former student of Riasanovsky’s, made extensive suggestions for revision, especially to the treatment of Russian history through the eighteenth century. I am in awe of his knowledge and wisdom, though I am fully responsible for not following all of his good advice. Not least, it has been a pleasure to work with Charles Cavaliere at Oxford University Press, whose patience and editorial perspective have been exemplary.
Essential work was contributed by Lindsay Profenno, who oversaw the book’s production; Debbie Ruel, who edited the manuscript with a sharp eye; and other production and editorial staff. Speaking for both authors, I ~rant to thank our families- wonderful spouses and amazing children, whose love and support and interesting lives have over many years sustained us. Finally, the ninth edition of A History
of Russia, like all of its predecessors, is dedicated to our students, who have always been foremost in mind, and from whom we always learn.
Mark D. Steinberg