This month I'm knee deep in my 'Come' series and that means Russia! Where I'm double checking some of my information for the opening prologue [hmmm] just so happens to be from one of my text books and this led me to a Book Talk! on my Russian book shelves.
A History of Russia by Nicholas V. Riasanovsky is just one of the many books I kept from my time in the classroom that I enjoy rereading. Russia's history is anything but simple and boring. Through the rule of individual princes to the Tsar's and on to today where they have a prime minister/president system, there is much intrigue and behind the scene happenings that just might help you understand where this country is coming from.
One of the first books I ever read about this country and its history was Peter the Great by Robert Massie. A one of a kind man who had a vision for Russia and did it, without a care for the detractors around him and there were many. Nicholas and Alexandra also by Massie is another book that brings a great deal of insight into the man on the throne and in this case his wife who was strong enough to have some influence.
Because my studies stopped abruptly with the end of the Romanov reign I have only a dozen or so books beyond it but I did like Khrushchev by Roy A. Medvedev & Zhores A. Medvedev. He's a fascinating man in the Soviet period. Stalin is a man I'd make the time to read more about. I know he was Georgian and cruel, but really that's about it and I should know more because he was able to control this nation with an iron fist that is most likely still felt by some of the people today. One of these days I'll get to Stalin by Edvard Radzinsky which is sitting on my to be read stack.
If you're not a fan of non-fiction then I'd highly recommend these three books to give you a good taste of Russia through various stages. Eugene Onegin by Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin , this is a tale before politics takes over all aspects of life. Petersburg by Andrei Biely, a story that takes place on the cusp of change. Finally, my favorite and the one that led me into the classroom for more, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - short and packs a serious punch. There's many more fictional books on my shelves that I'd recommend and think I'll have to do another Book Talk! about them in specific.
As this is Women's History Month there's one more very interesting read is the Five Sisters by Barbara Engel. At a time when many people thought women were only for the home, here is the story of five women who took part in trying to overthrow a Tsar.