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
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.
A wonderful story extremely well told! I enjoyed all the chapters especially the professor's personal stories!
"Prof. Hamburg Randomly Picked Topics"
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.
Discussed the date that the lectures were given.
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.
"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.
"One of the best of the Great Courses"
Thorough, exhaustive, and very analytical re Soviet history. My two degrees in History say: "Great"
"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.
"Biased but good"
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.
If it wasn't for slight biases it would have been better.
"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.
"Informative overview, if a bit dated"
Overall, this is a great overview of the events and people that made up the Soviet Union's history. The professor is extremely knowledgeable-- he comes off as a true "Russologist"-- and clearly delineates the whole story.
If anything, it's worth noting that this audiobook appears to have been recorded in the late 90s, so about the last 25% of the course feels oddly abbreviated. This is no doubt due to the historical proximity which still existed to the Soviet Union's collapse when this was recorded. The professor does make some prescient observations about the "rebirth" of Russia and what the country might shape up to be in the subsequent years, which some listeners might find interesting.
"Very solid outline of Russian history"
It is a very nice outline for listeners with basic and intermideate knowledge of the communism regimes. The voice of the professor and his intonation is quite specific, but you will get used to it. Every lecture is very well built and it fits to the overall frame of the semminar. There were two things that disappointed me a bit-last lecture and a mistake concerning the Czechoslovakian president Beneš.
"Very good overview with a human touch."
Well done. I wish I had listened to this prior to my visit to Russia.
"very informative, enthusiastic reader, bored voice"
this audiobook will deliver an astounding amount of information on the final days of imperial russia and a quarter of the audiobook is about Stalin's russia. It pales in comparison to the Fall and Rise of China Great Courses due to the readers voice which is easy to phase out and gets tiring to listen to at times.
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.
"Really very good"
Exactly what I wanted, if you are interested in this period I would definitely go for it.
"Packed full of relevant and useful information"
The saturation of useful information for either Degree qualifications, A-level and GCSE.
The abdication of the Tsar in March 1917.
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.
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