It's difficult to imagine a nation with a history more compelling for Americans than Russia. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, this was the nation against which we measured our own nation's values and power and with whom war, if it ever came, could spell unimaginable catastrophe for our planet.
Yet many Americans have never had the opportunity to study Russia in depth, and to see how the forces of history came together to shape a future so different from the dreams of most ordinary Russian people, eager to see their nation embrace Western values of progress, human rights, and justice.
Now a much-honored teacher has created a series of 36 lectures designed to give you one of the deepest glimpses into Russia you've ever had - a vivid journey through 300 years of Russian history as seen through the eyes of her own people. You'll discover historical themes made clear not by discussing treaties, war declarations, or economic statistics - but by examining the lives and ideas of the men and women who were Russia: tsars, emperors, Communist Party leaders, writers, artists, peasants, and factory workers.
You'll grasp what Russian life was like as Professor Steinberg analyzes ideas of power not only from the viewpoint of its rulers, but also from that of the ruled; the theme of happiness and its pursuit that resonates throughout Russian history, and ideas of morality and ethics as wielded by both the Russian state and its critics.
And you'll listen as he brings alive the vibrant Russian imagination - so willing to visualize a different kind of life for its people, yet so burdened by its darker sides of doubt and pessimism that those visions were rejected.
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Not story-telling but history-telling at its best
I am a retired man who spent good years in technology thus missing ample in history. With more time available now I wanted to catch up on that but being a slow reader, printed books wasn’t the best and the most motivating option. Thanks to audio books that filled that void very well. And it’s in this search for better audio books on history that I stumbled on The Great Courses.
I signed up for Audible and started with this one on Russian history as a free trial. And was it worth it? To answer that question simply, “I think I am sold to it”.
Professor Mark Steinberg does a commendable job walking one through the Russian history in a very lucid, fairly paced and absorbing delivery. I found it so riveting that I finished the entire 18-hours plus of listening in just 4 days. His knowledge, as I learnt late during his narration, is not just based on an academic study but also enriched by his physical knowledge (presence) of the then USSR where he studied and also taught - a fact that hadn’t been highlighted in the introduction to his lectures.
I’ll conclude saying that this lecture series on Russia alone is worth the subscription of a whole one year at Audible.
- Shah Alam
A good overview of the social history of Russia
I am a history lover and this was an enjoyable listen. The professor is very knowledgeable and does an excellent job and highlighting and explaining the various climates, movements, and major events in modern Russian history. He is especially good at covering the social history of Russia with a focus on the common man and the intellectual movements in Russian history. A few words of caution however. This is only a history of modern Russia in that it only goes from Peter the Great to the near present, not ancient or medieval Russian history. Also, the author barely covers or mentions little about Russian geography, Russian military history, or the process of Russian territorial expansion. While he did an amazing job covering the other aspects of history, I felt a loss with the absence of these elements, hence my 4 star review. Some portions, especially discussions of intellectual movements, may seem a little heady for one looking for a light listen.