Published: 2005 by Harvard University Press
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Since I’ve focused primarily on fiction thus far, I thought it might be nice to review one of my favorite nonfiction books. Service does a fantastic job providing a recap of 20th century Russian/Soviet history that is both highly readable and well-researched.
One of the biggest problems with history books about the Soviet era is that almost all of them are heavily biased, either demonizing or glorifying the Soviet Union. Service does neither, but instead takes a cynical view about everything. He is able to provide a rather objective look at the strengths and weaknesses of various figures, while realizing that we’re all adults and don’t need to know that the evil commies are coming to get us.
As the book is only around 500 pages, there are of course a lot of things that are glossed over. At the same time, Service did a good job at highlighting major events. The book covers late imperial Russia through around 1994, but there isn’t much coverage of anything after the fall of the Soviet Union. I would personally liked to see more of that, and how one ties the Russia of today to it’s historical roots. However, that wasn’t the point of the book. I’d recommend this to anyone who is interested in learning more about Russian history.