A Companion to Russian History

In This Review

A Companion to Russian History
Edited by Abbott Gleason
Wiley-Blackwell, 2009
568 pp. $199.95
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Bring together 28 specialists on various aspects of Russian history, and a lot of ground can be covered. Indeed, this anthology does cover a lot of ground -- from traces of proto-Slavic civilization before recorded history to Vladimir Putin's recent innovations. The chapters heaviest on historiography will appeal to professional historians, one of the most impressive being Nancy Kollmann's synthesis of the work on the political culture of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Muscovy. For others, the richness of Ilia Dorontchenkov's essay on Russian art (from the Middle Ages to modernism) and Richard Hellie's on the scope and nature of "unfreedom" in Russian history will be more rewarding. Elizabeth Wood's contribution on "the woman question" in the late imperial period reflects the innovative range of the collection. The list of worthy essays in the volume goes on, and it includes Gleason's introduction, which summarizes how critical features of Russian history are being reconsidered in light of the dramatic events of the recent past.