The Russian Empire, 1801-1917

The Russian Empire, 1801-1917

The Russian Empire, 1801-1917

The Russian Empire, 1801-1917

Synopsis

From the reign of Alexander I to the abdication of Nicholas II, this wide-ranging survey of Russian history follows the development of institutions, classes, political movements, and individuals and draws on a large body of documentary material and contemporary scholarship, making an important contribution to pre-revolutionary Russian studies.

Excerpt

It is difficult to write the history of another country. The foreigner has not grown up in its physical and mental climate, and he cannot understand them, still less feel them, in the same way as its own people do. He can spend long periods in a foreign land, learn its language, work and live among its citizens, to some extent think as they do, and be accepted as a friend. This is not the same thing as being one of the people of the country, but still it is something. This I have done in several countries, but Russia is not one of them. I have visited Russia briefly, I have known its language for many years, and I have had pleasant contacts with individual Soviet citizens. I might perhaps, if I had been more persevering, have spent much longer periods in this way. However, the most that I could have achieved, and which some persons known to me have indeed achieved, is still far less than what above I have called living among a foreign nation and being accepted as a friend. It has not in fact been possible for many years for a foreigner to live like this in Russia unless he has been willing to turn his back on his own country. There are signs that it may become possible some years hence, that my children's generation may be able to live among Russians as my father's generation were able.

The foreigner is of course writing for his own people, or for peoples whose language is the same as his own. He has to stress at some length points which to a Russian are so obvious that they do not even deserve a mention. He has to put together, and try to make a coherent picture of, many details which are found scattered in many sources; to do this is indeed as important a duty, towards his audience, as that search for new facts in documents which has become the exclusive preoccupation of so many professional historians. British historians have already made substantial contributions to the historical literature on Russia. Besides Sumner and Pares are many lesser names. In recent decades American contributions have been still more impressive--both monographs and general surveys. Nevertheless, there is still room for works in English on nineteenth-century . . .

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