To My Students

Copyright 2000 by Oxford University Press, Inc.


For a student of Russian history to write a complete history of Russia is, in a sense, to give an account of his entire intellectual and academic life. And his indebtedness to others is, of course, enormous. I know at least where to begin the listing of my debts: my father, Valentin A. Riasanovsky, made a huge contribution to this History of Russia both by his participation in the writing of the book and, still more important, by teaching me Russian history. Next I must mention my teachers of Russian history at Harvard and Oxford, notably the late Professor Michael Karpovich, the late Warden B. H. Sumner, and Professor Sir Isaiah Berlin. A number of colleagues read sections of the manuscript and made very helpful comments. To name only those who read large parts of the work, I thank Professors Gregory Grossman, Richard Herr, and Martin Malia of the University of California at Berkeley, my former teacher Professor Dimitri Obolensky of Oxford University, Professor Richard Pipes of Harvard University, and Professor Charles Jelavich of Indiana University.

I wish, further, to thank the personnel of the Oxford University Press both for great help of every kind and for letting me have things my own way. I am also indebted to several University of California graduate students who served as my research assistants during the years in which this work was written and prepared for publication; in particular, to Mrs. Patricia Grimsted and Mr. Walter Sablinsky, who were largely responsible for the Bibliography and the Index, respectively. Nor will I forget libraries and librarians, especially those in Berkeley. The publication of this volume can be considered a tribute to my wife and my students: my wife, because of her persistent and devoted aid in every stage of the enterprise; my students, because A History of Russia developed through teaching them and has its main raison d'etre in answering their needs.

I would also like gratefully to acknowledge specific contributions of material to my History of Russia. The following publishers allowed me to quote at length from the works cited.

Harvard University Press for Merle Fainsod, How Russia Is Ruled (Cambridge, 1954), pp. 372-73.

American Committee for Liberation for News Briefs on Soviet Activities, Vol. II, No. 3, June 1959.

Houghton Mifflin Company for George Z. F. Bereday, William W.

Brickman, and Gerald H. Read, editors, The Changing Soviet School (Boston, 1960), pp. 8-9.

Further, I am deeply grateful to the Rand Corporation and to Harvard University Press for their permission to use Table 51 on page 210 of Abram Bergson, The Real National Income of Soviet Russia Since 1928 (Cambridge, 1961). A condensed version of that table constitutes an appendix to my history. Professor Bergson not only gave his personal permission to use this material but advised me kindly on this and certain related matters.

Several people have been most generous in lending material for the illustrations. I should like to thank Mr. George R. Hann for making available to me prints of his superb collection of icons: Mrs. Henry Shapiro, who lent photographs taken by her and her husband during recent years spent in Russia; Professor Theodore Von Laue, who took the pictures I have used from our trip to Russia in 1958; Miss Malvina Hoffman, who lent the pictures of Pavlova and Diaghilev; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which permitted reproduction of a painting in their collection, Winter by Vasily Kandinsky.

As every writer - and reader - in the Russian field knows, there is no completely satisfactory solution to the problems of transliteration and transcription of proper names. I relied on the Library of Congress system, but with certain modifications: notably, I omitted the soft sign, except in the very few cases where it seemed desirable to render it by using i, and I used y as the ending of family names. A few of these names, such as that of the composer Tchaikovsky, I spelled in the generally accepted Western manner, although this does not agree with the system of transliteration adopted in this book. As to first names, I preferred their English equivalents, although I transliterated the Russian forms of such well-known names as Ivan and used transliterated forms in some other instances as well, as with Vissarion, not Bessarion, Belinsky. The names of the Soviet astronauts are written as spelled in the daily press. I avoided patronymics. In general I tried to utilize English terms and forms where possible. I might have gone too far in that direction; in any case, I feel uneasy about my translation of kholopy as 'slaves.'

As with transliteration, there is no satisfactory solution to constructing an effective bibliography to a general history of a country. I finally decided simply to list the principal relevant works of the scholars mentioned by name in the text. This should enable the interested reader who knows the required languages to pursue further the views of the men in question, and it should provide something of an introduction to the literature on Russian history. The main asset of such a bibliography is that it is manageable. Its chief liability lies in the fact that it encompasses only a fraction of the works on

which this volume is based and of necessity omits important authors and studies.

I decided to have as appendixes only the genealogical tables of Russian rulers, which are indispensable for an understanding of the succession to the throne in the eighteenth century and at some other times, and Professor Bergson's estimate of the growth of the gross national product in the U.S.S.R.

Berkeley, California Nicholas V. Riasanovsky

September 24,1962


The second edition of my History of Russia follows in all essentials the first. Still, the passage of time and the continuous development of scholarship resulted in many additions and modifications. In particular, the Soviet period was expanded both to encompass the last six years and to devote a little more attention to certain topics. A dozen additional authors proved important enough to be cited by name in the second edition, and thus enter the bibliography. Numerous other researchers in the field, some of equal importance to me, received no personal citation. In addition to the text and the bibliography, changes were made in the maps and the illustrations. In the appendixes, the table of the U.S.S.R. gross national product was brought up to date and a table of the administrative divisions of the U.S.S.R. was added. Moreover, a new appendix containing a select list of

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