It's difficult to imagine a nation with a history more compelling for Americans than Russia. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, this was the nation against which we measured our own nation's values and power and with whom war, if it ever came, could spell unimaginable catastrophe for our planet.
Yet many Americans have never had the opportunity to study Russia in depth, and to see how the forces of history came together to shape a future so different from the dreams of most ordinary Russian people, eager to see their nation embrace Western values of progress, human rights, and justice.
Now a much-honored teacher has created a series of 36 lectures designed to give you one of the deepest glimpses into Russia you've ever had - a vivid journey through 300 years of Russian history as seen through the eyes of her own people. You'll discover historical themes made clear not by discussing treaties, war declarations, or economic statistics - but by examining the lives and ideas of the men and women who were Russia: tsars, emperors, Communist Party leaders, writers, artists, peasants, and factory workers.
You'll grasp what Russian life was like as Professor Steinberg analyzes ideas of power not only from the viewpoint of its rulers, but also from that of the ruled; the theme of happiness and its pursuit that resonates throughout Russian history, and ideas of morality and ethics as wielded by both the Russian state and its critics.
And you'll listen as he brings alive the vibrant Russian imagination - so willing to visualize a different kind of life for its people, yet so burdened by its darker sides of doubt and pessimism that those visions were rejected.
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©2003 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2003 The Great Courses
I am a retired man who spent good years in technology thus missing ample in history. With more time available now I wanted to catch up on that but being a slow reader, printed books wasn’t the best and the most motivating option. Thanks to audio books that filled that void very well. And it’s in this search for better audio books on history that I stumbled on The Great Courses.
I signed up for Audible and started with this one on Russian history as a free trial. And was it worth it? To answer that question simply, “I think I am sold to it”.
Professor Mark Steinberg does a commendable job walking one through the Russian history in a very lucid, fairly paced and absorbing delivery. I found it so riveting that I finished the entire 18-hours plus of listening in just 4 days. His knowledge, as I learnt late during his narration, is not just based on an academic study but also enriched by his physical knowledge (presence) of the then USSR where he studied and also taught - a fact that hadn’t been highlighted in the introduction to his lectures.
I’ll conclude saying that this lecture series on Russia alone is worth the subscription of a whole one year at Audible.
I am a history lover and this was an enjoyable listen. The professor is very knowledgeable and does an excellent job and highlighting and explaining the various climates, movements, and major events in modern Russian history. He is especially good at covering the social history of Russia with a focus on the common man and the intellectual movements in Russian history. A few words of caution however. This is only a history of modern Russia in that it only goes from Peter the Great to the near present, not ancient or medieval Russian history. Also, the author barely covers or mentions little about Russian geography, Russian military history, or the process of Russian territorial expansion. While he did an amazing job covering the other aspects of history, I felt a loss with the absence of these elements, hence my 4 star review. Some portions, especially discussions of intellectual movements, may seem a little heady for one looking for a light listen.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
I have been searching for a decent documentation of the history of modern Russia for quiet a while, and this audiobook delivers. It explores the philosophies, inner movements and conflicts that Russia had gone through. If you're interested in exploring the history of Russia in an unbiased, academic way, look no further.
I assumed this would be a lecture series about Russian History, but what it really was was a history of Russian politics and philosophy. While parts were interesting, I am not personally interested in the philosophy of the Russian people, I am more interested in the events that shaped the country. For example, the professor barely mentions the Napoleonic Wars or any other war for that matter. I would have preferred he cover the majority of the information he covered, but also cover wars and other things besides politics and philosophy.
Yes, I listened to the Ancient Egypt series and I have started one on the Chinese, but this particular course was not nearly as good.
An excellent study of the personalities that shaped Russia as we know it today, though it tantalizingly stops short of the modern events that have led to Putin's new expansionist Russia. It will be very interesting to see where it stops short.
I would like to have a bit more of a structured recounting of the major events, but in the introduction the approach is presented to be a treatment of the major persons more than the events.
Character, hmm, well Peter the Great was certainly a character but my real fascination is with Lenin.
The October Revolution - just astonishing to think how this *might* have turned out differently.
The utter disregard for life shown by Stalin, and the commitment to an misguided ideal that can cause a nation of people to fall to evil.
I hesitate to mention this, as it's one of those things you might not notice until I point it out, but the presenter has a case of the "uhms" that kept distracting me from the otherwise very good performance. Otherwise I'd nudge the stars up a little.
I like history and biography, novels too. I do have a thing for zombie books as well. I need crappy thrillers now and then.
Professor Steinberg is good, speaks well. This doesn't go too deep with the early czars, but I've enjoyed it.
I am not a fan of history via personalities, preferring to approach via impersonal forces like trade and technology. This is not to deny the validity of Steinberg's approach, though sometimes he carries it to extremes.
He is at his best describing attitudes of peasantry and intelligentsia later in the course, using anecdote to exemplify movements rather than to imply singular causality. He is weaker early in the course, when it seems all Russian history bends to the will of a single person, turning on a dime each time a new tsar takes the throne--a very disjoint narrative. In one absurd case, he spends an entire lecture on Pushkin only to conclude that Pushkin is historically irrelevant. An odd choice, then, for a history course.
International relations get short shrift. Russian imperial ambitions (a warm-water port, pan-Slavic leadership, clashes with Britain in central Asia) and their implications get no attention. The Russo-Japanese war is covered in two sentences, and apparently there was some kind of war going on in Europe while Lenin began his revolution. Again, a valid approach to a course devoted specifically to Russian history, but listeners should know what they're getting.
Even among great lecturers, Steinberg has an excellent delivery, with a beautiful voice and few of the verbal tics one notices after 18 hours listening to a single person.
"Great overview of modern russian history"
informative, interesting, surprising
I think this was a good overview of a very complex history, I really liked the lecture format of the great courses (first one I have listened too). I am a big fan of Audible and listen to a lot of audio books, particularly whist driving, and I do find on occasion my attention will wander with a conventional audio book. But in this instance, there is something about the lecture format that keeps you engaged and wanting to hear more. There is also some subtle repetition from one lecture to the next, which reinforces elements that can easily be forgotten, especially if you listen to a lot of weighty history books on audible.
This is the first thing I have ever heard with Mark Steinberg, but will prompt me to look him up elsewhere.
Not so much moved, given they are lectures, but you do feel for the peasantry and Russian people at large, and the "life is cheap" attitude where soldiers where sent to war under equipped and told there are plenty of guns and bullets lying next to dead soldiers. Also the fatalism of Nicholas the II, who attended a ball on the night of his coronation after over thousand had died only hours earlier in a crowd stampede, saying god wills it.
Really enjoyed the format and really enjoyed finding out more about Russian history, will definitely download more Great Courses in the future. There are some occasions where the lectures can have you a bit out of sync, talking extensively about in-fighting among the soviets in one chapter, and bouncing back to 1905 revolution in the next, but fortunately it wasn't too jarring. I am sure each individual chapter of the history could form a course in of itself, and I hope that there will be further works in this area.
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