Eastern Europe


New books on Russia tend to focus on the impact and aftermath of the Soviet Union. However, among those that look back to before the Bolshevik Revolution is Chronicle of the Russian Tsars: Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers of Imperial Russia by David Warnes (Thames & Hudson, 19.95 [pounds sterling]). Drawing on biographical portraits of Russia's rulers, the author reveals the facts behind the reputations of the Tsars including Ivan the Terrible and Catherine the Great in a richly illustrated format.

Published to coincide with the bicentenary of the birth of the poet Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837), Pushkin's Button by Serena Vitale (Fourth Estate, 16.99 [pounds sterling]) pieces together the last months of Pushkin's life and the events leading up to his fatal duel with Baron d'Anthes who had fallen in love with Pushkin's wife, Natalya.

It has long been thought that despite its Non-Aggression Pact with Germany in 1939, the USSR was preparing to enter the war against Germany. However, Grand Delusion: Stalin and the German Invasion of Russia by Gabriel Gorodetsky (25 [pounds sterling]) argues that Stalin was actually pushing for a peace settlement. The dictator's military planning is under further scrutiny in Plans for Stalin's War-Machine: Tukhachevskii and Military-Economic Planning, 1925-1941 by Lennart Samuelson (Macmillan, 42.50 [pounds sterling]) which takes the opposite view that the Soviet Union was more prepared for war than contemparies estimated.

Perceptions of Russia from abroad are explored in Russia under Western Eyes: From the Bronze Horseman to the Lenin Mausoleum by Martin Malia (Harvard University Press, 21.95 [pounds sterling]) which explores the stereotypes that have dominated Western ideas about Russia. Meanwhile, Memoirs: Reflections on the Russian Soul by Dmitry S. Likachev (Central European University Press, 22.95 [pounds sterling]) is an insider's version of events, spanning the early 20th century to perestroika and glasnost, when Mikhail Gorbachev attempted to give political power to Likachev, this book adds a personal dimension to a turbulent period.

Hungary is the subject of several new studies published by Central European University Press. Among these, a useful overview is presented in Hungarians and Europe in the Early Middle Ages: An Introduction to Early Hungarian History by Andras Rona-Tas (39.95 [pounds sterling]), which contains seventy-five historical maps and colour plates. Hungary and the Habsburgs, 1765-1800: An Experiment in Enlightened Absolutism by Eva H. Balaz (39.95 [pounds sterling]) examines a crucial period in the coexistence of the Austrian hereditary provinces and Hungary and is the product of forty years of research by this leading historian of Central Europe.

Based on unpublished material in the Soviet archives which has only been recently reclassified, Soviet Military Intervention in Hungary, 1956 edited by Jeno Gyurkei (31 hb [pounds sterling], 13. …

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