In This Review

Restless Empire: A Historical Atlas of Russia
Restless Empire: A Historical Atlas of Russia
By Ian Barnes
Belknap Press, 2015, 240 pp

The word “atlas” brings to mind a collection of geographic maps, but that image doesn’t do justice to the richness, imagination, and comprehensiveness of this physically beautiful volume. Barnes has collected and painstakingly reproduced maps and texts that trace Russian history from the origins of the Slavs (800–200 bc) to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea. He introduces maps that demonstrate migration patterns over time, the expansion of the Russian empire, changes in the region’s ethnic composition, battle positions in major wars, the location of industry under Peter the Great, the growth of the serf population, the path of Russian economic development in the nineteenth century, the location of “corrective labor” camps, and much more. The impact is visually stunning and gives this massive expanse of history a physical quality.