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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.
33 of 34 people found this review helpful
I have been searching for a decent documentation of the history of modern Russia for quiet a while, and this audiobook delivers. It explores the philosophies, inner movements and conflicts that Russia had gone through. If you're interested in exploring the history of Russia in an unbiased, academic way, look no further.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up A History of Russia: From Peter the Great to Gorbachev in three words, what would they be?
informative, interesting, surprising
What did you like best about this story?
I think this was a good overview of a very complex history, I really liked the lecture format of the great courses (first one I have listened too). I am a big fan of Audible and listen to a lot of audio books, particularly whist driving, and I do find on occasion my attention will wander with a conventional audio book. But in this instance, there is something about the lecture format that keeps you engaged and wanting to hear more. There is also some subtle repetition from one lecture to the next, which reinforces elements that can easily be forgotten, especially if you listen to a lot of weighty history books on audible.
Have you listened to any of Professor Mark Steinberg’s other performances? How does this one compare?
This is the first thing I have ever heard with Mark Steinberg, but will prompt me to look him up elsewhere.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Not so much moved, given they are lectures, but you do feel for the peasantry and Russian people at large, and the "life is cheap" attitude where soldiers where sent to war under equipped and told there are plenty of guns and bullets lying next to dead soldiers. Also the fatalism of Nicholas the II, who attended a ball on the night of his coronation after over thousand had died only hours earlier in a crowd stampede, saying god wills it.
Any additional comments?
Really enjoyed the format and really enjoyed finding out more about Russian history, will definitely download more Great Courses in the future. There are some occasions where the lectures can have you a bit out of sync, talking extensively about in-fighting among the soviets in one chapter, and bouncing back to 1905 revolution in the next, but fortunately it wasn't too jarring. I am sure each individual chapter of the history could form a course in of itself, and I hope that there will be further works in this area.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to A History of Russia: From Peter the Great to Gorbachev the most enjoyable?
Such scale, such knowledge, such a personable style of delivery. I loved every minute of it. Makes me want to go and read about each and every one of the figures and events described. Truly inspiring. My only slight reservation is that Mark's voice gets a little hoarse which is not surprising, given the amount of text, while the canned applause is not convincing.
What about Professor Mark Steinberg’s performance did you like?
I thought he was great - obviously, he is steeped in the subject!
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No - i had to listen to each lecture separately, as the amount of information was daunting.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Having recently visited Russia, I was keen to listen to this. It focused on the Tsarist period from Peter the Great - I was disappointed to not get anything in Ivan in particular or those who followed before we reached Peter. The Soviet era post-WW2 also seemed to zoom by.
The lecturer is good. The story is well told - but it did not cover enough of the story I was hoping to hear.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful