The End Of Tsarist Russia (Review)

I noticed The End of Tsarist Russia: The March to World War I & Revolution during the lead up to the December holiday season.  Despite the timing, I knew this was a must read book.  The urge to bring it home was overwhelming.

Like most Americans, I was ignorant of many aspects regarding the first World War. Likewise, this ignorance was surpassed by a lack of knowledge about pre-Soviet Russia. This state of mind is partly due to our America-centric culture as well as the scarcity of source material about late 19th and early 20th century Russia. This yawning gap of history has been accompanied by the deficiency of information about the roles of Tsarist Russia in the lead-up to the Great War. The author, Dominic Lieven addresses these and other arcane issues in this fascinating volume.

Tucking into the book, I soon became immersed in this epic story with the help of Lieven’s very readable writing style.  He takes the reader by the hand through the complexities of late 19th century Russian monarchial politics in connection with that nation’s missteps in foreign relations and conflicts.

Sprinkled throughout the book are antique portraits of the movers and shakers of the political regime. These photographs help the reader to remember the leading characters in the grand drama as it unfolds.


The slow death of Tsarist rule in Russia coincided with the declines of the Austrian Habsburg Empire, The Ottoman Empire, and the Prussian Empire.  The interactions of these Empires, along with the British, French, and rising influence of Germany are explained. These interactions meshed with the humiliating defeat of Russia to Japan in the Russo-Japanese War. The crises of empire are skillfully described in easily understood language.

By enlightening this reader about these personalities and events, I was able to better understand world history as it unfolded in the late 1800s and very early 1900s. It became clear that Russian and European dynamics that make news today, are the continuation of long-standing struggles of the past.

This important volume expands the scope of European and World History in many ways. It soon becomes clear why we need to understand the lead up to the Great War and to the Russian Revolution from the Russian perspective. This eye-opening information was built on Lieven’s extensive research through the Russian Archives plus non-Russian resources.

The tale about the dimming of the Ottoman Empire, Habsburg Empire, the Hohenzollerns, and the Russian Romanovs is as large as Mother Russia.  The transition from kaisers, sultans, and tsars to totalitarians and authoritarians is a fascinating subject.  Lieven’s work has added much needed perspective to history. The study of this book helps us understand Russia’s actions and point of view as contemporary events unfold, today.TsaristRussia-02Lieven

I recommend this book to the general reader who is hungry for Russian history and for people who want to expand their understanding about the roots of the first World War.

The author is a senior research fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge and a fellow of the British Academy. Lieven has taught Russian Studies at the London School of Economics. His book Russia Against Napoleon was awarded the “Wolfson Prize for History” and the “Prix Napoleon”.

{ The End of Tsarist Russia: The March to World War I & Revolution by Dominic Lieven; 448 pages; published August 18, 2015 by Viking; ISBN:  978-0-670-02558-9 }

До свидания

TsaristRussia-03The Blue Jay of Happiness notes this revealing quote by Tsar Nicholas II: “I am not yet ready to be Tsar. I know nothing of the business of ruling.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
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1 Response to The End Of Tsarist Russia (Review)

  1. Pingback: The End Of Tsarist Russia (Review) | oshriradhekrishnabole

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