Martin Sixsmith continues his history of Russia, from the tumultuous events of 1917 to the country’s re-emergence as one of the world’s most powerful nations.
After the whirlwind of the revolution, the Bolsheviks struggled to consolidate their victory. To rescue the economy and save the regime, Lenin made concessions to the people. But after his death, Stalin introduced forced collectivisation and industrialisation, condemning the Soviet people to conditions worse than those experienced under the Tsars. Nikita Khrushchev reversed the worst excesses of Stalinism, and in 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev embarked on radical reforms of the communist system - unleashing unforeseen consequences that swept him from power and destroyed the USSR.
Martin Sixsmith brings his firsthand experience of reporting from Russia in the 1980s and ‘90s to his narrative, witnessing the critical moment when the Soviet Union lost its grip on power. He asks if the recurring patterns of Russian history can help us understand what has happened since 1991, when the promise of Western-style democracy aroused so many hopes for change.
Eyewitness accounts, archive recordings and personal testimony enrich his narrative, as well as readings from Russian authors and historians such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Vasily Grossman, plus music by Stravinsky, Prokofiev and others.
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Re-Broadcast of a BBC's "Russia: The Wild East"
There is an astonishing lack of proportion and emphasis. The communist regime killed millions of peasants. The prison system established by the communists was a source of slave labor as well as a means of suppressing dissent. The Russians dealt with minorities in a particularly bloody and brutal manner. While each of these topics is covered, it is hasty. Instead, Martin Sixsmith spends an inordinate amount of time on covering the day-to-day minutia of the USSR's downfall and his coverage of it for the BBC.
I have read his Putin's Oil which is a superior work.
This is a rebroadcast of BBC's "Russia: The Wild East, Part 2" presented in 25 episodes. Although Sixsmith is the primary narrator, there are interviews, clips from news accounts, tape recorded speeches of historical figures, quotes from poems, choirs singing in the background, etc. In many respects the historical characters speak for themselves.
There is far too much turf to cover for this to be made into a movie.
Martin Sixsmith is a BBC journalist who served in the USSR, Poland, and Washington. He was Tony Blair's Director of Communications and has written both fiction and non-fiction books. I would recommend this audiobook for someone who wants a general overview of the events of the past century. However, it does not come close to describing the full magnitude of atrocities perpetrated by the Soviet regime.
- Nikoli Gogol