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

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Gary Hamburg
  • Series: The Great Courses: Modern History
  • 12 hrs and 13 mins
  • Lecture

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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Lance

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?


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.

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- Bob Savage

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses