The Cambridge History of Russia. Vol. 2, Imperial Russia, 1689-1917by Dominic Lieven

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<ul><li><p>The Cambridge History of Russia. Vol. 2, Imperial Russia, 1689-1917 by Dominic LievenReview by: Susan MorrisseySlavic Review, Vol. 67, No. 1 (Spring, 2008), pp. 229-231Published by:Stable URL: .Accessed: 12/06/2014 19:01</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact</p><p> .</p><p>Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserveand extend access to Slavic Review.</p><p> </p><p>This content downloaded from on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 19:01:58 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>Book Reviews 229 </p><p>events and some phenomena are neither explained nor satisfactorily placed in any larger framework. The volume includes at least four irreconcilable views on the nature of the </p><p>Russian state. Ostrowski tells us that the basis of the state structure was Mongol (a view not </p><p>widely accepted) and that the system rested on the consensus of the elite with a weak ruler </p><p>("the grand prince of Muscovy ruled with sharply circumscribed powers," 215). Hellie, in his various chapters, prefers to think of the state as "hypertrophie" (364), with </p><p>an au </p><p>tocratic ruler who followed the sixth-century Byzantine deacon Agapetus in thinking he </p><p>was God's vicegerent on earth. Poe, who sees basic continuity across the two centuries, </p><p>believes that the ruling elite was greedy and power-hungry and the tsar was one of them, </p><p>perhaps putting him in the middle between Hellie and Ostrowski. Bogatyrev and Pavlov </p><p>see a complex balance of powerful tsar, powerful councilors, and continual back and forth </p><p>among them. The uninitiated reader is left to navigate among these viewpoints with no </p><p>real guide, for the editor's brief remarks on historiography in the introduction focus </p><p>on </p><p>meta-issues like Marxism and not on the disagreements among the authors in the volume. </p><p>To make things worse, the reader has no indication that, for example, Ostrowski and </p><p>Hellie present rather extreme formulations of views that also exist in less idiosyncratic </p><p>forms. The same is true of the chapters on law and society. Hellie's views of the </p><p>towns </p><p>are hard to fit with Shaw's, and Kollmann offers a quite different conception of law and </p><p>society than Hellie. How is the uninitiated reader to reconcile Hellie's statement that </p><p>85 percent of the population were serfs with Kollmann's that large areas of Russia did not </p><p>know serfdom? </p><p>To add to the confusion, there is considerable overlap among the chapters. Shaw and </p><p>Hellie cover much the same ground, even though their views sharply conflict. In </p><p>some </p><p>cases the reverse is the problem: Khodarkovsky's account of non-Russians in the seven </p><p>teenth century omits the Ukrainian Hetmanate, arguably the most important of Russia's </p><p>acquisitions since Siberia in the 1580s. Davies tells the story of the Ukrainian Cossacks and </p><p>their acceptance of Tsar Alexei's overlordship, but in the context of military history. Thus </p><p>the story of the Hetmanate and Russia after 1667 is absent from the volume, yet it is surely as </p><p>important as that of Siberia. </p><p>The editor introduces her volume as "authoritative and reliable." The latter, some au </p><p>thorial quirkiness aside, is mostly true, but an authoritative volume needs to be consistent, </p><p>or if that cannot be achieved, it must explain the place of the various voices. As it is, the </p><p>result is more a collection of (mostly excellent) articles than a book of reference. </p><p>Paul Bushkovitch </p><p>Yale University </p><p>The Cambridge History of Russia. Vol. 2, Imperial Russia, 1689-1917. Ed. Dominic Lieven. </p><p>Cambridge, Eng.: University of Cambridge Press, 2006. xxviii, 765 pp. Notes. Bibliog </p><p>raphy. Chronology. Index. Plates. Tables. Maps. $185.00, hard bound. </p><p>This book is the second of three that together aspire?as the jacket states?to present "a </p><p>definitive new history of Russia from early Rus' to the [Soviet Union's] successor states." </p><p>The volumes are edited by well-known specialists who have commissioned contributions </p><p>from scholars primarily from the Anglophone world but also from continental Europe. Al </p><p>though the promises of a book jacket should </p><p>not be taken too literally, projects of this sort </p><p>inevitably raise questions. What is the purpose and target readership of these volumes? Are </p><p>they intended to be a reference work, consulted for their individual articles, or an actual </p><p>history, contributing to contemporary scholarship? These aims are not mutually exclusive, </p><p>but they do mark two poles of a continuum, each requiring a rather different kind of read </p><p>ing. Indeed, the title of the series evokes the second pole, in noteworthy contrast to its </p><p>predecessor, the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the Soviet Union (1982; rev. ed., 1994). </p><p>In sum, how well does this series juggle encyclopedic coverage with historical narrative? </p><p>The time frame for this middle volume is appropriate, if conventional: the reign of </p><p>Peter the Great to the February Revolution of 1917. The editor, Dominic Lieven, who </p><p>has written extensively on the political history of imperial Russia, has given primacy to </p><p>This content downloaded from on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 19:01:58 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>230 Slavic Review </p><p>topics he feels historians have neglected in recent decades, notably the history of empire, </p><p>government, the economy, the military, and foreign policy; roughly half of its 31 articles </p><p>are on these "unfashionable" but "traditional core topics" (3). Lieven's decision to focus </p><p>this volume is fully legitimate, though his avowed neglect of more "fashionable" topics </p><p>seems out of place, not just because some good scholarship is dismissed, but also because </p><p>empire and political history are in fact extremely fashionable fields these days. Yet this </p><p>decision also reflects what Lieven posits as the central tasks of this volume: to provide </p><p>a </p><p>comprehensive overview of Russian history suitable for general reference and for students </p><p>at the MA level. Comprehensiveness, he stresses, is more important than either diversity or </p><p>coherence. In other words, Lieven seeks to "cover" the imperial period, thereby aspiring more to </p><p>encyclopedia than history. </p><p>Comprehensiveness is an elusive goal that a reviewer can easily challenge from her </p><p>own subjective perspective. (David's Moon chapter on peasants and agriculture from 1689 </p><p>to 1917, while well informed and informative, for example, can </p><p>hardly be considered </p><p>comprehensive.) More important, this goal can mask underlying problems. This volume </p><p>does in fact cover a large number of topics, in greater or lesser depth, just as it inevitably </p><p>skips over others. It is divided into seven sections under the following headings (with the </p><p>number of chapters indicated in parentheses): empire (3); culture, ideas, identities (4); non-Russian nationalities (3); Russian society, law, and economy (9); government (3); </p><p>foreign policy and the armed forces (5); reform, war, and revolution (4). The problem is its lack of a conceptual or narrative frame. A comparison with volumes 1 and 3 in this </p><p>series is instructive. Both have detailed introductions that set out major issues of historical </p><p>development and interpretation. They further combine a chronological with a thematic </p><p>structure, with sections and chapters examining particular periods, but also key issues </p><p>and themes over time. Unfortunately, volume 2 does neither. Although Lieven does write </p><p>the first chapter, promisingly entitled "Russia as Empire and Periphery," he seeks less to </p><p>introduce the Russian empire (or this book) than to condense his own monograph on </p><p>the topic. (Interested readers are recommended to go directly to his monograph: Empire: The Russian Empire and Its Rivals, 2001.) The lack of a chronological or conceptual dimen </p><p>sion means that the volume neglects specific historical periods and issues of periodization more broadly. The only monarch to get </p><p>a chapter is Alexander II. While Larissa Zakharova </p><p>provides a </p><p>knowledgeable analysis of the reform era, this reader wondered whether Peter </p><p>the Great merited a chapter. (Would not the debates about the historical significance of </p><p>his reign be appropriate in a volume presupposing its significance?) The point is not to </p><p>second-guess the editor but to note two consequences of his choices. First, the structure </p><p>will be confusing to students who do not necessarily possess a strong understanding of </p><p>historical periods or </p><p>developments over time. Second, the individual chapters often con </p><p>sider too vast a period and are sometimes prone to "covering" the material while neglect </p><p>ing issues of historical controversy or interpretation. Only two themes were divided into </p><p>chronological sections: those on (high) culture (Lindsey Hughes and Rosamund Bartlett) and foreign policy (Hugh Ragsdale and David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye). </p><p>Despite the shortcomings of the volume as a whole, many of the articles are strong and fluent accounts written by specialists in their fields. In addition to those already </p><p>men </p><p>tioned, the following is a subjective (and incomplete) cross-section of articles that provide </p><p>good interpretative introductions to their topics and could be assigned to advanced stu </p><p>dents: Mark Bassin, "Geographies of Imperial Identity"; Benjamin Nathans, 'Jews"; Elise </p><p>Kimerling Wirtschafter, "The Groups Between"; Gregory Freeze, "Russian Orthodoxy"; Barbara Engel, "Women, the Family and Public Life"; Janet M. Hartley, "Provincial and Local Government"; William C. Fuller Jr., "The Imperial Army"; and Reginald E. Zelnik, "Russian Workers and Revolution." Several other articles stand out for their imaginative </p><p>and original topics, including Catherine Evtuhov's portrait of Nizhnii Novgorod in the </p><p>nineteenth century and Michelle Lamarche Marrese on gender and the legal order. Fi </p><p>nally, Eric Lohr's cogent analysis of World War I and the February revolution forms a fitting conclusion. </p><p>This volume contains many good articles, though their level and approach vary sig </p><p>nificantly, with some authors focusing primarily on the basic factual coverage of a topic. Lacking as it does a strong editorial presence or temporal framework, it is not successful </p><p>This content downloaded from on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 19:01:58 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>Book Reviews 231 </p><p>as a history of imperial Russia. Despite its prohibitive price, one </p><p>hopes it will find its place within libraries as a reference book for both scholars and advanced students. </p><p>Susan Morrissey </p><p>University College London </p><p>The Cambridge History of Russia. Vol. 3, The Twentieth Century. Ed. Ronald Grigor Suny. </p><p>Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 2006. xviv, 842 pp. Notes. Bibliogra </p><p>phy. Chronology. Index. Illustrations. Plates. Maps. $185.00, hard bound. </p><p>It is a daunting challenge to try to encompass the entire history of Russia in the twentieth </p><p>century in a single tome, however weighty. Yet that is just what Ronald Grigor Suny and his </p><p>twenty-four coauthors have ably accomplished in the concluding volume of The Cambridge </p><p>History of Russia. </p><p>This set of scholarly sborniki, spun off from the classic Cambridge series of historical </p><p>compendia, is now making its appearance in three impressive volumes, edited respectively </p><p>by Maureen Perrie of the University of Birmingham for the span of time from Kievan Rus' </p><p>to 1689; by Dominic Lieven of the London School of Slavonic Studies to cover the years </p><p>from Peter to the fall of the monarchy; and by Ronald Grigor Suny, now returned to the </p><p>University of Michigan from the University of Chicago, for the twentieth century. The </p><p>format is an editor's introduction followed by individually authored articles, some chrono </p><p>logical, some topical, supplemented by a long and useful bibliography. </p><p>In his long (sixty-three-page) introduction, "Reading Russia and the Soviet Union </p><p>in the Twentieth Century: How the 'West' Wrote Its History of the USSR," Suny offers a </p><p>broad exposition of British and American historiography on the Soviet Union, done, ap </p><p>propriately, in the historical dimension. A veritable tour de force, deftly executed around </p><p>a thesis of successive revisionisms, Suny's essay is invaluable as a guide to the authorities </p><p>and controversies in the field. </p><p>Anglophone Soviet studies, as Suny perceives the area, </p><p>was as much affected by the </p><p>international challenge of the Soviet Union as was the general political atmosphere in </p><p>the west, and similarly, academic conceptions reflected successive phases of the Soviet </p><p>experience. Running through the field was a persistent conservative-liberal division, </p><p>ex </p><p>pressed in such interpretive polarities as </p><p>political versus social history, ideology </p><p>versus </p><p>circumstances, and totalitarianism versus modernization. Nor did the ultimate breakdown </p><p>of the communist regime dampen controversy between "modernizationists" and "neo </p><p>traditionalists" about the historical nature of the Soviet era. </p><p>To execute his assignment of surveying the twentieth century Suny rounded up an </p><p>impressive stable of contributors, both British and American, junior as well as senior. It is </p><p>good to see some younger scholars involved in an enterprise of this nature, </p><p>even if they </p><p>may not be entirely familiar with the earlier literature. </p><p>The two dozen individual contributions in this work are divided equally between </p><p>chronological studies, corresponding to the usual periodization, and topical explorations of the social, economic, cultural, and international aspects of the Russian experience be </p><p>tween 1900 and 2000. These chapters are largely straightforward narratives, more </p><p>or less </p><p>on a textbook level, though mature in tone, with generally clear exposition of events and </p><p>issues. All contributions are well documented, with references to authorities both Anglo </p><p>phone and Russian on all major points and frequent citation </p><p>of newly accessible Soviet </p><p>documents. </p><p>Specialists, to be sure, will not find much new here, either in concept or in detail, but </p><p>the Cambridge histories are, of course, intended primarily as reference books, and this </p><p>volume fulfills that role well. The focus of the compendium is historiography, and more </p><p>particularly, as the editor notes in the subtitle of his introduction, western (read: Anglo...</p></li></ul>


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