Riasanovsky's opus is a fairly straightforward attempt at a
comprehensive history of Russia. Separate (and fairly self-contained)
sections cover Kievan, Appanage, Muscovite, Imperial and Soviet Russia.
The basic structure is a series of roughly chronological chapters
covering the political and military history of a period, followed by
chapters on its art/architecture/culture, religion, social history,
and economics. This is all fairly standard stuff, but Riasanovsky
presents a nice balance between the different approaches and his
account is eminently readable. The text is plentifully provided
with maps and there are twenty four pages of attractive black and
white photographs. There is a structured list of suggestions for
further reading in addition to the bibliography.
The coverage of Soviet Russia is now out of date, of course, with so
much in the way of additional information having been revealed during
the last decade; if that is what you are chiefly interested in then you
will want the recent fifth edition. Since I was most curious about the
earlier history, I was happy to find that the mid point of the volume
fell as far back as 1800.
Note: this is now up to an eighth (2010) edition!
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