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The Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism: A History of 20th-Century Russia Lecture

The Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism: A History of 20th-Century Russia

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Publisher's Summary

From the Oval Office to the streets of Moscow, world leaders and ordinary citizens alike share interest and concerns about Russia. Can democracy survive there? What does the future hold for the once expansive and still powerful Russian nation? Is Soviet Communism truly dead?

These are the kinds of questions diplomats struggle with every day. And now, through this series of 16 incisive lectures by an acclaimed scholar of Russian history, you can begin investigating them for yourself as you take a probing historical journey through the recent history and near future of a key world power. Whether your chief interest is Russian or world history, political theory, or international relations, you'll take away fresh knowledge and insight as Professor Hamburg examines the improbable origins of Communist rule in Russia, the ascent of the Red Star to its zenith, and its decline and apparent end in the wake of 1989's events.

Using new material from previously sealed Soviet archives and covering recent controversial findings by both Russian and Western scholars, he begins with the failures of the czarist regime and the horrors of the First World War, then takes you through the bloody era of Josef Stalin's purges and beyond to Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika to offer you a thoroughgoing analysis of the Soviet experiment.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©1996 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1996 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.7 (10 )
5 star
 (8)
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4.6 (10 )
5 star
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Story
4.5 (10 )
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Performance
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  •  
    joshua 10/05/2016
    joshua 10/05/2016 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Rise and Fall of Russia in The Soviet Era"

    This was a passable history, but just like most American Great Courses accounts of the history of Marxism and socialism there is an implicit pro-market ideology permeating through the narrative. Also, this was 90% about Russia, 5% about Ukraine, and 5% about just a few of the other thirteen constitutive states that made up the USSR: a bit disappointing for me, as I was wanting to hear about the Soviet experience in the Baltic and Caucasus more than just Russia. Given that the last lecture focuses on Yeltsin and the beginnings of Russian market capitalism, I would hazard a guess that these recordings are from the 1990s. Much has changed in the post-Soviet world since then, including historical perspective. It would be useful for The Great Courses to note the date of recording for their courses, and it would also be great to have a course that isn't ~20 years old on rotation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth K T Tse 22/03/2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The sad Soviet story of the recent past well written and related"

    A wonderful story extremely well told! I enjoyed all the chapters especially the professor's personal stories!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Bob Savage
    WARWICK, RI, US
    15/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Prof. Hamburg Randomly Picked Topics"
    Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Gary Hamburg?

    I may pick other Great Courses but I will be more careful to see when the actual date that the lectures were taped. Bill Clinton was still president of the United States and Yeltsin was President of Russia when these lectures were taped. Professor Hamburg was given his predictions on what would happen in Russia after the fall of Communism. More than 14 years have gone by since they lecture were taped and much has happen. As a result, the last lecture was very out of date and gave no preceptive what Russia has actually become under Putin. The "release date" stated 2013 but this is obviously meaningless because it has no relation to when the lectures was actually taped.


    What could The Great Courses have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Discussed the date that the lectures were given.


    What character would you cut from The Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism: A History of 20th-Century Russia?

    N/A


    Any additional comments?

    It does not appear that the professor actually tried to explain why the USSR fell. He randomly picked topics to include but skipped crucial events. He did not include Poland and East Germany's efforts and final success in breaking away from the USSR and the USSR's decision not to send in troops to stop them from breaking away as a prellude to the USSR republics also seeking to break with it. He did not even discuss the USSR's defeat in Afghanistan as a factor in the eventual breakup of the USSR. Not really a good effort.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Lance
    Maryland, United States
    13/11/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great introduction but leaves lots of questions"

    I really enjoyed the professor and the course. It is a very historical overview of the forces that drove acceptance of Soviet communism, an overview of its decline, and some background behind where it may be headed.

    Highly recommended as an introduction to this material.

    Reasons why I dropped a star. I didn't get a sense as to what the people did, who the people were, who the people became as they progressed throughout what was about a 100 year window of Russian history. I get that Communism minimizes individual contributions and thus this is not necessarily noteworthy, but I would have liked to see a more systematic analysis of how the culture of the country changed as the years progressed. Another reason is the course seemed to stop somewhere in the 1990s. Ok, great but I feel like I need to read alot more about Yeltsin and Putin to understand where Russia is today and what its prospects are. The professor I think could have accommodated more discussion about the Russian people and culture but sometimes gets sidetracked on points that were interesting but somewhat academic. Great I know and get that he is a teacher but for an intro course, I'd rather be focused on some key themes and keep the the academic / pedantic stuff to a minimum.

    Loved the course. Really liked the teacher. This is highly recommended for those looking for an introduction to the rise and fall of Soviet Communism. There may be better intros out there but this worked well for me.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • John
    18/02/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "One of the best of the Great Courses"

    Thorough, exhaustive, and very analytical re Soviet history. My two degrees in History say: "Great"

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Matthew
    5/05/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Introductory to Early Uprising"

    It's a good primer for sure, wanting to know more about early communist uprising. This is a good start. I enjoyed it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • CNV_bountyHunter
    3/05/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Biased but good"
    What made the experience of listening to The Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism: A History of 20th-Century Russia the most enjoyable?

    I was expected an unbiased report on communism and Russia but what I got is a professor that makes jokes at communism and people laughing in the audience. <br/><br/>If it wasn't for slight biases it would have been better.


    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • icecoldlover
    9/07/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful overview"

    Definitely a wonderful overview of Russian history. Worth a listen for those unfamiliar with Russian history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Layne D. Hansen
    9/07/17
    Overall
    "Very disappointed"

    This started out slowly. The lecturer is pretty boring and takes some getting used to. It starts to get good but then it REALLY speeds up. I'm a single lecture he goes from the demise of Khrushchev to the rise of Gorbachev. He speaks NOTHING of outside forces, which had as much to do with the end of the ussr as it's internal problems. Didn't even finish and have already traded it in.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Kindler
    27/06/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Review"

    As the title states, great review but there could have been so much more to these lectures. Something on the working class, the KGB, even the cold war information was scant. easily could have been a 24 hour lecture.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jim B.
    CA USA
    18/05/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Survey of Soviet Communism."

    From The Provisional Government to Boris Yeltsin, this course provides a great overview of everything thats essential to know about the Communist party in the Soviet Union. The insights and humorous stories about the inronies of soviet communism make the story very entertaining as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Michael Anthony Novak
    Saint Leo University, Florida
    25/09/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good, but a little incomplete"

    Professor Hamburg's work is engaging, in conversation with the scholarship around him, and is a fine example of the historian's task. This latter is by virtue both of his willingness to offer insightful assessments where he can, and by being modest where information is lacking. There are two drawbacks. The lectures, recorded and published around 1997/1998, are now (September 2016) feeling a little dated in not continuing on to the Putin years, which are a continuation of the aftermath of the Soviet story. The other drawback is the feeling of disproportion in the series. Out of sixteen lectures, twelve are devoted to the period of the Revolution through the end of Stalin's reign in 1953. That leaves three lectures for the post-1953 Soviet Union, and one for the post-Soviet era, thus four lectures covering 43 years, after having had twelve lectures covering a comparable stretch of time. The Cold War is therefore treated hastily, more attention to internal Soviet life in the later period would be welcome, and details of the complex Soviet relationship to Europe are lacking. (For example, there is no mention of the Solidarity movement or the rise of John Paul II in Poland.) If the Teaching Company can give Dr. Hamburg the opportunity to add to and revise the latter part of these lectures, that would be an easy and welcome fix.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Thomas
    14/05/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "excellent overview of Russian history"

    excellent for anyone wanting to get an overview of a vast and complex history. speaker is clearly an expert in his field..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    22/02/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good, but showing its age"

    A competent but brisk narrative of the Soviet era that focuses on the early period (pre-1941) to a great extent. The age of the recording is conspicuous, however, as the lecturer opines on what developments Yeltsin's leadership *might* bring - an update that expands on the influence of the Soviet experience on Putin's Russia would be very welcome.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Eliel Cohen
    23/04/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good lectures"

    good and informative lectures but it did seem to be in that awkward middle ground where a decent amount of knowledge was often assumed but then at other times left you wondering why more depth was not offered. It should have probably been about 10 lectures longer to be honest. the political analyses of pre-revolutionary Russia was probably most insightful moment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • mr
    west sussex, United Kingdom
    6/12/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Really very good"

    Exactly what I wanted, if you are interested in this period I would definitely go for it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • ben
    EXETER, United Kingdom
    13/01/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Packed full of relevant and useful information"
    What did you like most about The Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism: A History of 20th-Century Russia?

    The saturation of useful information for either Degree qualifications, A-level and GCSE.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The abdication of the Tsar in March 1917.


    Which character – as performed by Professor Gary Hamburg – was your favourite?

    ...


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It's educational.


    Any additional comments?

    May be a bit to much information for a GCSE student or even an A-level student which I am. I find some parts irrelevant for me or in other words an A-level student. Some of the grammar used may be a bit confusing for anyone under the age of 18 trying to gather knowledge of Russia from 1900-1991.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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