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Russia from the Varangians to the Bolsheviks
By Raymond Beazley, Nevill Forbes and G. A. Birkett. (1918)

With an Introduction by Ernest Barker.

THE four authors of this book have done their difficult work well. It is a long period from 852 to 1917 to pass in review and show, as they have done, the latent causes which have led to the sudden collapse of what was in all appearance a giant and a united empire. Yet the causes were not really far to seek. Russia, through the suppression of all popular government to suit a Byzantine system of kingship made more autocratic through its borrowings from the Khans during the Tartar conquest, was a colossus with one head and many bureaucratic hands but no real popular support. From the time of Peter the Great it became, owing to the impetuous will of that Tzar, a Western power with a great army, and until 1917 this army supported the Chinovniksy who in turn (for their own advancement and through no spirit of real patriotism) supported the sovereignty of the different Tzars without much sense of personal loyalty. Indeed when one considers the heterogeneous races of Russia and the heritage of the long period of serfdom, the idealistic nature of some of the Romanovs, the retrograde character of other emperors and empresses, and the passivity of the Orthodox Church, 'We are beginning to realize,' as the Introduction shows, that the dissolution of the great State ... is less astonishing than its long continuance in the past.' That it lasted so long is no doubt due to the continual repression of all popular thought through the jealous fears of the bureaucracy, but with this came the jealousy of all progress. This was not so easily seen in peace time, but every war tried the system, and during the great war of 1914 to 1917 was a war which dwarfs all previous wars to child's play the Russian State, though it endured the strain for a time, 'cracked and collapsed.' The early history is well given here. The 'Time of the Troubles,' a period having some analogy to the present Anarchy, is also instructively dealt with. So is the tortuous policy of the partitions of Poland, which like serfage also left a long legacy of evil to Russia. The modern political movements (the Developments so called) are instructive as leading up to the Revolution of 1905, and the summary of events since must be read and studied. The whole book is a real addition to political history.


You can download this book in pdf format here



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