Russia: Experiment with a People

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Overview

Since the fall of communism, Russia has witnessed a dramatic struggle between old and new, continuity and change. Corruption and violence have plagued society. Most people have benefited little from the new capitalist order. But positive changes are evident. Russians can speak and act more freely in a state that no longer intrudes on their privacy. They are able to travel abroad, enjoy unprecedented access to information from around the world, and organize and campaign for improvement in their living conditions.

In this engrossing account Robert Service traces the formation of the new Russia from the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 to the present. He paints a fascinating picture of a people in metamorphosis. In wide-ranging discussions on topics from Kremlin politics to rock music and macroeconomics to contemporary poetry, Service takes us inside to witness the changes from both the top down and the bottom up. He examines the reforms of the Yeltsin and Putin administrations in the context of the complex communist legacy, deftly interweaving political history, intellectual thought, and popular consciousness to illuminate the real difficulties Russia has faced on its rocky path to reform.

For the second time in less than a century, the Russians have been engaged in a fundamental reshaping of their society, and the results will prove of vital importance to the global community. Robert Service has provided a valuable and engaging guide to their recent remarkable journey.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Review of Books

[A] scholarly and well-informed survey of the first post-Soviet decade.
— Orlando Figes

New York Sun

[Service's] latest work, Russia: Experiment With a People, is a balanced, thorough, thoughtful examination of Russia since the fall of Communism...Mr. Service's book isn't a quick read or an easy introduction to Russia. But it has the virtue of perspective, and he mixes a historian's scope with sharp observations about the last decade.
— Liena Zagare

Foreign Affairs
Service provides the most wide-ranging description yet of what has happened to Russia since it emerged from the rubble of the Soviet Union. Hardly an angle has been neglected, from the historical lineage of national identity and the residue of Soviet times to the excesses of popular culture and life in the village. The core of the book deals with politics: the character and failings of Russia's leaders, turning points in the struggle over reform, the manipulation of symbols and media, and relations between the center and outlying regions...It is a rich and variegated portrait of a wondrously complex society.
Russian Review

This is the story of a "wasted historic opportunity" and Professor Service tells it well…However the project of 1992 has been largely abandoned, and this book, more than any other I know on the period, will explain why.
— Beryl Williams

New York Review of Books - Orlando Figes
[A] scholarly and well-informed survey of the first post-Soviet decade.
New York Sun - Liena Zagare
[Service's] latest work, Russia: Experiment With a People, is a balanced, thorough, thoughtful examination of Russia since the fall of Communism...Mr. Service's book isn't a quick read or an easy introduction to Russia. But it has the virtue of perspective, and he mixes a historian's scope with sharp observations about the last decade.
Russian Review - Beryl Williams
This is the story of a "wasted historic opportunity" and Professor Service tells it well…However the project of 1992 has been largely abandoned, and this book, more than any other I know on the period, will explain why.
Foreign Affairs
Service provides the most wide-ranging description yet of what has happened to Russia since it emerged from the rubble of the Soviet Union. Hardly an angle has been neglected, from the historical lineage of national identity and the residue of Soviet times to the excesses of popular culture and life in the village. The core of the book deals with politics: the character and failings of Russia's leaders, turning points in the struggle over reform, the manipulation of symbols and media, and relations between the center and outlying regions. The book is more ambitious verbal photo album than deep and sustained analysis. But it is a rich and variegated portrait of a wondrously complex society; a sympathetic, abused, at times brutish people; and a modern leadership given to squandering opportunity. Ultimately, though, Service stresses the successes amid the failure, ending with a balance sheet that inclines him to "cautious pessimism."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674021082
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2006
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 819,933
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Service is a Fellow of the British Academy and Professor of Russian History at Oxford University.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Preface

Introduction

One: The Project of Reform

1. For a New Russia

2. What Is Russia?

3. Who Are the Russians?

4. Public Images, 1800-1991

5. Soviet Legacies

Two: Power and the Kremlin

6. The New Russian State

7. Popular Opinion

8. Masters of Red Square

9. Economising on Reform

10. Bloodbath in Chechnya

11. Russia in the World

Three: Persuading Russia

12. Official Transmission

13. Symbols for Russia

14. Understating the Case

15. The Politics of Ideas

16. Culture for the Nation

Four: In the Russian Depths

17. Federation and the Regions

18. Russian Town, Russian Village

19. Class and the 'New Russians'

20. A Society Disclosed

21. Russiain Private

22. Future Uncertain

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2003

    Behind the glitter of Moscow ............

    This book certainly pulls no punches about the truth concerning what is REALLY happening in Russia today,despite the so-called'economic boom' so often reported in the western media!Even more tragic is that major countries such as the U.S.A. and Britain colluded with and even encouraged the corrupt system there in the 90's,which has resulted in the poverty and humiliation faced by so many millions of it's inhabitants today!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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