Today's Russia, also known as the Russian Federation, is often viewed as less powerful than the Soviet Union of the past. When stacked against other major nations in the present, however, the new Russia is a formidable if flawed player.
Russia: What Everyone Needs to Know® provides fundamental information about the origins, evolution, and current affairs of the Russian state and society. The story begins with Russia's geographic endowment, proceeds through its experiences as a kingdom and empire, and continues through the USSR's three-quarters of a century, and finally the shocking breakup of that regime a generation ago. Chapters on the failed attempt to reform Communism under Mikhail Gorbachev, the halting steps toward democratization under Boris Yeltsin, and the entrenchment of central controls under Vladimir Putin bring the reader into the contemporary scene and to headline-grabbing events such as Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and its military intervention in Syria. Drawing on trends within Russia and on ratings and rankings compiled by international organizations, Colton discusses the challenges facing the country—ranging from economic recession to demographic stress, political stagnation, and overextension in foreign policy—and to the realistic options for coping with them.
The book shows that, although Russia is not imprisoned by its history, it is heavily influenced by it. Colton illustrates Russia's greatest strength and, ironically, its greatest weakness: the ability of its people to adapt themselves to difficult circumstances beyond their immediate control. Russia, as Putin has asserted, will not soon be a second edition of the United States or Britain. But, Colton shows, there are ways in which it could become a better version of itself.
"Timothy J. Colton's timely book provides an insightful analysis of the country's long history ... in his analysis ... Colton offers a brief yet rich discussion of a wide array of issues." - Europe-Asia Studies
"Timothy J. Colton's new book, Russia: What Everyone Needs to Know, lives up to its ambitious subtitle and offers one of the most comprehensive short introductions to Russian history and today's political situation available... Colton's book is an excellent choice for readers who want to know why Russia is the way it is, but are also interested in facts and details rather than generalisations. It is unique to find such a well-researched and informative work that is also accessible to non-experts." - April Curtis, LSE Review of Books
"This book offers an insightful look at how place and past shape a nation and how one man — at the right time and place and with the right moves — can change its course." - Vikas Datta, New Kerala
Russian Names and Terms
Map 1: The Physical Setting
Map 2: Expansion of the Russian State
Map 3: The Soviet Union
Map 4: Post-Soviet Russia
Map 5: Russia and Its Neighbors
1. Why the Russian Phoenix Matters
What is Russia and who are the Russians?
Why did Soviet Russia so perturb the West?
Is it worth paying attention to a downsized, post-Soviet Russia?
Is Russia inscrutable?
How did geography influence Russia's development?
Why did Russia get so huge?
What was the import of being an empire?
What was distinctive about the Russian autocracy?
Was society in the old order smothered by the state?
Why did Imperial Russia go for revolution and not reform?
Who were Lenin and the Bolsheviks?
Why did the Bolsheviks prevail in the Russian Revolution?
When and how did the Communist regime gel?
What were "socialism in one country" and "the revolution from above"?
Who was Stalin and what was his role?
Was Stalin's Soviet Union totalitarian?
How did World War II affect Soviet Communism?
What was the Cold War, and was there any connection with the internal system of rule?
Who was Khrushchev and what was "the thaw"?
Who was Brezhnev and what was "the epoch of stagnation"?
What were the pluses and minuses of the Soviet development model?
Did factors other than economics undermine the regime?
What were the consequences of the death of Brezhnev?
Who was Gorbachev and what was perestroika?
4. A New Russia
What went wrong with the attempt to reform Communism?
Who was Yeltsin and what enabled him to carry the day?
How was power transferred from the USSR to Russia and the other new states?
Why was the Soviet collapse relatively peaceful?
What was Russian "shock therapy"?
Why was there a constitutional crisis after 1991, and how was it resolved?
Was Yeltsin's Russia really a democracy?
Was Yeltsin's Russia really a federation?
Why and with what results did war break out in Chechnya?
How did post-Soviet Russia come to terms with its past?
How did post-Soviet Russia come to terms with its place in the world?
Who were the oligarchs?
What were the causes and effects of the financial crash of August 1998?
Why did Yeltsin relinquish power?
5. Transition within the Transition
Who is Putin and what were his credentials to be leader?
How did Putin consolidate his power?
How did Putin compare to Yeltsin in leadership goals?
How did Putin compare to Yeltsin in leadership style?
Did Putin kill Russian democracy?
Did Putin kill Russian federalism?
What was behind the economic boom of the 2000s, and what difference did it make?
What happened to the oligarchs after 1999?
What made Putin and his policies so popular?
How did Russian foreign policy change under Putin?
Who is Medvedev and what was "the tandem" of 2008 to 2012?
Why and how did Putin's line harden after he recaptured the presidency in 2012?
6. A Better Edition of Itself?
Why did Russia annex Crimea?
What are the repercussions of the Ukraine crisis?
Are Russia and the West heading into a new Cold War?
What is the significance of the Russian intervention in Syria?
Can Russia's economy be modernized?
How serious are Russia's demographic problems?
What are the prospects for rule of law?
What are the prospects for civil society?
How creative a country is present-day Russia?
Where is identity politics taking Russia?
When is Putin going to step down?
Is a second perestroika in the cards?
Is Russia the prisoner of its history?
"...refined and comprehensive." -- Foreign Affairs
ISBN : 9780199917792