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Publisher's Summary

World War I and the Russian Revolution together shaped the 20th century in profound ways. In The End of Tsarist Russia, acclaimed scholar Dominic Lieven connects for the first time the two events, providing both a history of the First World War's origins from a Russian perspective and an international history of why the revolution happened. Based on exhaustive work in seven Russian archives as well as many non-Russian sources, Dominic Lieven's work is about far more than just Russia. By placing the crisis of empire at its core, Lieven links World War I to the sweep of 20th-century global history. He shows how contemporary hot issues such as the struggle for Ukraine were already crucial elements in the run-up to 1914. By incorporating into his book new approaches and comparisons, Lieven tells the story of war and revolution in a way that is truly original and thought provoking.

©2015 Dominic Lieven (P)2015 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A Russian scholar opens up new, even startling historical connections." (Kirkus Starred Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Informative History on European Geopolitics

I recommend this book for anyone who wants to know the underlying causes of WWI. To say Lieven's documentation of Russian foreign and domestic policy was thorough would be an understatement. However, given his use of a sliding timeline it can be hard to follow linearly. Overall, it was educational and enjoyable.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting but flawed.

The subject matter is important, and the viewpoint, concentrating on the interplay among the geopolitics of empires, personalities, and ideology, is illuminating. However, there is much repetition, and the author frequently loses himself in over-detailed discussions of individual diplomats. The opening chapters, the final summarizing chapter, and the afterword are clear and fascinating, and full of provocative historical parallels.
The narrator was not a good choice for this material. His delivery was altogether too purring, insinuating, and over-inflected. I often listen while driving, and this reader made me sleepy.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Phenomenal

A first rate history of interest to those looking for a deep dive into Russia, the origins of the First World War, or the tensions of empire and modernization before 1914.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • San Jose, CA, United States
  • 05-25-16

A good book done in by bad narration.

As a history of Russia's entry into the Great War this volume sheds new light on a neglected part on that conflict. The actual content is novel and thought provoking. And now for the bad news, this history is nearly done in by a horrible reading.

There is an unfortunate default in many narrations that having a person with a sound footing in the queen's English is the sin qua non of a "serious" book and the acme of erudition. This particular book is an egregious example of such a bias.

Whatever class and "breeding" brought in by this particular voice actor, it is lost in the delivery. The delivery is sing-song, poorly paced and oddly delivered. The choice of verbal fry by the narrator can only be described as questionable at best and irritating at worst. The cut glass narration ends up in lacerating the delivery. Our poor history is left bleeding out, utterly victimized by the ham-fisted delivery of the narrator.

The narrator even manages to mangle common English borrowings from the French via the time-dishonored technique of French-frying standard English pronunciations. Alsace-Lorraine does have a time honored pronunciation in at least American and British English and there is no need to divert to a Gallic reconstitution of that pronunciation. It adds nothing to the narration and actually detracts from it to have the Francophone version crash into one's earbuds/headset.

Given the soporific and uninspired narration I can not recommend the audio version of this book. And if this particular book is any indication of how the narrator goes about his craft I would strongly recommend that any audio-book that he has lent his vocal cords to should be given a wide berth. I gave two stars even though it's a one and half star effort in this book.

One good point. I can, without hesitation, recommend this effort to any insomniacs looking for relief from that affliction. You'll be out like a lite in less than 45 minutes. But for others, a strong pot of coffee or a large can of energy drink is advised. The narrator is a great, crashing, uninspired bore.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent and detailed

excellent, and detailed to the point of being tedious. ...yes it is the real deal

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Not what I wanted, but good

This felt like an excellent prequel to The Guns of August. scrupulously researched.

If you are looking to learn about the fall of tsarist Russia and the bolshevik revolution this is the WRONG book.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Deep information, horrid narration

This book goes very deep into the fracturing history of the Romanov empire. Well researched and written. If you just want the story of the final year, this is way more than that. I Should have just read this one though. The narrators strange pace, and breathy mispronunciations remind me of an athsmatic Captain Kirk reading a foreign language dictionary.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Extremely Frustrating

An extremely comprehensive summary of Russian pre revolutionary government dulldrum. Although the narrator tried, this book was so dull that listening to it on my commute became extremely dangerous, as the creeping text pulled me ever closer towards sleep. I am extremely frustrated, because I was hoping for the actual downfall of the tsarists, seeing that the book was called: "the end of tsarist Russia.' I really expected it to cover the wars. Perhaps, I am biased as a military history fan, but this book was basically precommunist Russian cspan.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

boring but serviceable

very detailed. you need to have a very solid grasp of ww1 before too read it. and it covers exclusively 1905 to 1914. mostly in the foreign ministry

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Deals only with the minutia of various ministers

What disappointed you about The End of Tsarist Russia?

The author had access to various records (especially a lot of diaries) that were available to historians for the first time, which had a lot of potential to be woven into the broader history of Russia, the last Czar, WWI and the Bolshevik revolution. But the book focused almost entirely on the thoughts and correspondences of Russian ministers and diplomats. All other history and historical context was left out or barely mentioned. I've been reading a lot of history lately, and all through the book I was thankful that I'd read OTHER books that actually explained things. If you are not well versed in history, this book will be incomprehensible. If you are well versed in history, you'll get very little out of this book. The author is extremely long winded, like he had a book of one third the length that needed to be expanded by tripling the text with a lot of fluff. I am very easy to please, I've given 5 stars to almost every audio book on any subject. This is my first negative review. The narrator was very good.