A Military History of Russia: From Ivan the Terrible to the War in Chechnya

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006 - History - 259 pages

This book brings to light Russia's undeservedly-obscure military past, rectifying the tendency of American and Western military historians to neglect the Russian side of things. Russia, as both a Western and non-Western society, challenges our thinking about Western military superiority. Russia has always struggled with backwardness in comparison with more developed powers, at some times more successfully than others. The imperatives of survival in a competitive international environment have, moreover, produced in Russian society a high degree of militarization. While including operational and tactical detail that appeals to military history enthusiasts, this book simultaneously integrates military history into the broader themes of Russian history and draws comparisons to developments in Europe. The book also challenges old assumptions about the Russian military. Russian military history cannot be summed up simply in a single stock phrase, whether perennial incompetence or success only through stolid, stoic defense; it also shows numerous examples of striking offensive successes.

Stone traces Russia's fascinating military history, and its long struggle to master Western military technology without Western social and political institutions. It covers the military dimensions of the emergence of Muscovy, the disastrous reign of Ivan the Terrible, and the subsequent creation of the new Romanov dynasty. It deals with Russia's emergence as a great power under Peter the Great and culminating in the defeat of Napoleon. After that triumph, the book argues, Russia's social and economic stagnation undermined its enormous military power and brought catastrophic defeat in the Crimean War. The book then covers imperial Russia's long struggle to reform its military machine, with mixed results in the Russo-Japanese War and World War I. The Russian Revolution created a new Soviet Russia, but this book shows the continuity across that divide. The Soviet Union's interwar innovations and its harrowing experience in World War II owed much to imperial Russian precedents. A superpower after the war, the Soviet Union's military might was purchased at the expense of continuing economic backwardness. Paradoxically, the very militarization intended to provide security instead destroyed the Soviet Union, leaving a new Russia behind the West economically. Just as there was a great deal of continuity after 1917, this book demonstrates how the new Russian military has inherited many of its current problems from its Soviet predecessor. The price that Russia has paid for its continued existence as a great power, therefore, is the overwhelming militarization of its society and economy, a situation it continues to struggle with.


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A military history of Russia: from Ivan the Terrible to the war in Chechnya

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Stone (Russian history, Kansas State Univ.;Hammer and Rifle: The Militarization of the Soviet Union, 1926-1933 ) does an artful job of recounting over 500 years of Russian military campaigns and ... Read full review


1 The Rise of Muscovy
Map Muscovy
2 The Time of Troubles
3 The Early Romanovs
4 Peter the Great
Map Peter the Great
5 After Peter
Map RussoTurkish Wars
10 The RussoJapanese War
Map The RussoJapanese War
11 World War I
Map World War I
12 The Soviet Experiment
13 The Great Patriotic War
Map World War II
14 The Soviet Superpower

6 Catherine the Great
7 The Napoleonic Wars
Map Napoleons Invasion
8 Repression and Defeat
9 Reform and Recovery
15 The Emergence of a New Russia
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About the author (2006)

David R. Stone is Associate Professor of Russian history at Kansas State University. His first book Hammer and Rifle: The Militarization of the Soviet Union, 1926-1933 , was a History Book Club selection, winner of the Historical Society's inaugural Best First Book prize, and co-winner of the Shulman Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies. The author of numerous articles on Russian and Soviet military and diplomatic history, Stone is currently working on a study of Trotsky's role in the creation and development of the Red Army.

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