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The Story of Russia (Paperback)
  • The Story of Russia (Paperback)

The Story of Russia (Paperback)

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Paperback 368 Pages
Published: 03/08/2023
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Waterstones Says

From the bestselling author of A People's Tragedy and Natasha's Dance comes a vibrant, authoritative history of the competing ideologies and self-perpetuating mythologies that have informed Russian history from the formation of the state of Rus to Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

From the great storyteller of Russia, a spellbinding account of the stories that have shaped the country's past - and how they can inform its present.

No other country has been so divided over its own past as Russia. None has changed its story so often. How the Russians came to tell their story, and to reinvent it as they went along, is a vital aspect of their history, their culture and beliefs. To understand what Russia's future holds - to grasp what Putin's regime means for Russia and the world - we need to unravel the ideas and meanings of that history.

In The Story of Russia, Orlando Figes brings into sharp relief the vibrant characters that comprise Russia's rich history, and whose stories remain so important in making sense of the world's largest nation today - from the crowning of sixteen-year-old Ivan the Terrible in a candlelit cathedral, to Catherine the Great, riding out in a green uniform to arrest her husband at his palace, to the bitter last days of the Romanovs.

Beautifully written and based on a lifetime of scholarship, The Story of Russia is a major and definitive work from the great storyteller of Russian history: sweeping, suspenseful, masterful.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781526631756
Number of pages: 368
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm


'Figes's book is an absorbing and enlightening read, a triumph of concision, analysis and insight' - Daily Mail

'A deeply impressive and deeply immersive book . . . The author sets out to reveal Russia's history, its people's perception of their past and the manifold ways in which those in power manipulate both events and legend to shape the present. It is a saga of multi-millennial identity politics' - Spectator

'To understand Putin's paranoia, read this book on Russia's history' - Telegraph

'A lucid chronological journey that ably illustrates how narratives from the nation's past have been used to shape its autocratic present' - Observer

'If you really want to understand Putin's Russia today, anchored in its past of myths, then you simply have to read Figes's superb account in The Story of Russia' - Antony Beevor

'Figes's book is an absorbing and enlightening read, a triumph of concision, analysis and insight' - Daily Mail

An indispensable survey of more than 1,000 years of history shows how myth and fact mix dangerously in the tales this crucial country tells about itself' - Guardian

'A magnificent, magisterial thousand year history of Russia . . . its tsars and tyrants, wars and massacres, ideas and dreams vividly drawn, its analysis of Russian power and empire essential reading today' - Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The Romanovs and Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar

'An expert on Russia delivers a crucially relevant study . . . A lucid, astute text that unpacks the myths of Russian history to help explain present-day motivations and actions' - Kirkus (starred review)

'Urgent and revelatory and brilliantly told, it's all the things you pray a book will be when you first pick it up' - Peter Morgan

'Excellent short study' - Max Hastings, Sunday Times

'The historian's latest work on Russia is a lucid chronological journey that ably illustrates how narratives from the nation's past have been used to shape its autocratic present' - Angus Macqueen, Observer

'Figes skilfully assesses the evolution of the forms of government and society that inhibited the development of controls of the tsar' - BBC History Magazine

'Accessible and epic . . . A great introduction to an enthralling subject' - History Revealed

'An impressive account of the ideas, myths and ideologies that have shaped that country and the way its people interpret the past . . . Figes's book offers a valuable, instructive overview' - Independent

'Anyone who wants to detox from Putin's mythomanic claims about Russia's history and what it means for today's world will find some relief in The Story of Russia . . . Figes presents Russia's history in a straightforward manner' - Irish Independent

'Valuable book' - Irish Times

'[An] imaginative sweep and a capacity to encapsulate in a memorable way' - TLS

'Orlando Figes provides valuable lessons about the importance of mythologizing the country's past in his sweeping new survey of Russian history' - New York Times

'Sweeping and concise . . . It is a skilled piece of compression' - Tablet

'This is a brilliant condensation - his analysis of Soviet Russia is superb - of a seriously complex tale' - Spectrum

'The Story of Russia combines profound knowledge and understanding of the longer, deeper structural processes of history with the personal experience of an author seeking to understand what is happening on the ground today' - Financial Times

'Orlando Figes's latest book provides fascinating insights into this contemporary conundrum. The Story of Russia is a truly incisive and important dissection of Russia's troubled past, both real and mythical, but it also provides a crucial context for understanding the present' - Jewish Chronicle

'This book is a timely reminder of the malign uses to which history can be put' - Politics Home

'A brilliantly concentrated meditation on the power of myth and history, and the ability of both to form and deform and guide and misguide the present. Thoughtful, nuanced and above all persuasive, it shows how we are all trapped in the loops and coils of myth, memory and forgetting, and demonstrates the urgent need for historians to remember, and insist on the truth' - William Dalrymple, Books of the Year, Spectator

'Beautifully brief, The Story of Russia shows centuries of regimes that revisit their past to manipulate the future, and eternally start from the wrong place acting in venal self-interest rather than the true national interest' - Best Books of 2022, Financial Times

'Given the news, Orlando Figes's short book could hardly be better timed ... His story abounds in strange and memorable characters, from emperors to writers. But it's the sheer sweep that impresses most, as he turns a potentially grim and overwhelming subject into a delightfully brisk and enjoyable read' - Best History Books of 2022, Sunday Times

'To understand Russia's autocratic present, you must examine its past - although Russia's perception of that past is ever-shifting. Its founding myths have shaped its history right up to the present. "Russia is a country held together by ideas rooted in its distant past, histories continuously reconfigured and repurposed to suit its present needs' - Best Non-fiction of 2022, Irish Times

'The Story of Russia by Orlando Figes looks 900 years earlier, to the national myths that Putin exploited in his invasion of Ukraine. "The country's past will be reinvented by the Russian state as its needs change," Figes observes' - Best History Books of 2022, Telegraph

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“Russia - "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" Winston Churchill. This book helps to unpick the riddle.”

This is a terrific read. I’ve always been fascinated by Russian history (blame the biography of Anna Pavlova I was given as a child, and of course, the film “Doctor Zhivago”), and I have read a lot about it. Even... More

“Well written”

This is an important book to read to help understand what is happening between Russia and Ukraine at the moment. Orlando Figgs'writing is compelling, clear and obviously well researched.
Many thanks to the... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 17

“A fine history.”

This is a fine book that brings the reader about as up to date as possible for a history book, covering as it does the early stages of the current war in Ukraine.

Engagingly written and full of great stories, the... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 13

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