The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.
By Martin Sixsmith (Overlook, $37.95)
You would think there was not much need for yet another history of Russia. Think again.
Sixsmith turns his journalist’s eye on the full span of Russian history and delivers an immensely entertaining and readable tome. The work is enriched by his deep and long-term involvement in the country as a BBC reporter (we find out he was, among other things, with General Gromov and the last Soviet convey to leave Afghanistan, and with Sinyavsky after Daniel’s funeral) and even the earlier sections of the book are made lively by his intermixing of historical narrative with personal visits to the sites where important events took place.
The chapters are short and dense, yet thorough enough for the general reader. Throughout, Sixsmith continually returns to the theme of Russia’s millennial struggle between autocracy and democracy, a struggle which recent events shows continues unabated.
Reviewed in Russian Life: Mar/Apr 2012