A HISTORY OF MODERN RUSSIA – Robert Service (1997)

A History of Modern Russia by Robert Service is a fascinating account of the events that begin with Nicholas II and lead all the way to Vladimir Putin.

Sometimes a few sentences  is worth the price of the book.  The author contemplates the death of Stalin and describes the process of embalming and the funeral that took place.  Service adds, “A silence was meant to descend over Moscow.  But such was the crowd in the nearby streets that a commotion broke out.  The pressure of bodies led to dozens of fatalities.  From under the glass the chemically-treated corpse could still terminate innocent lives.”

A few lessons stand out:

1. Unchecked power corrupts people and nations

2. The power of an ideology or worldview does not terminate with the death of a  given leader

3. Never underestimate the power of an atheistic worldview

4. Never take freedom for granted

A History of Modern Russia is a terrific overview.  It honestly assesses the strengths and weaknesses of this fascinating country. 

3.5 stars

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