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The Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism: A History of 20th-Century Russia

Discover facts and interpretations of Russia's dramatic experience with Soviet Communism.
Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism: A History of 20th-Century Russia is rated 4.0 out of 5 by 53.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Solid historical analysis Solid historical study of period, artfully combining narrative and analyses of underlying forces. Written 25 years ago, it is very interesting in light of the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, providing historical context to the confllct.
Date published: 2022-05-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Too detailed Stopped listening as there was TOO much detail. It is like being told about every brick in a building
Date published: 2022-03-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A wonderful tour of Soviet Russia In my opinion, this was an excellent history lecture series. The professor does not bog one down with a laundry list of names and dates. A real narrative is provided with a texture, nuance, and context I frequently do not find in other history courses. I knew a lot of Russian history going into this course, but was still surprised at how much learned. I thought the instructor's presentation style was perfectly fine. He is deliberative, articulate, has a good pacing, and sometimes has a dry, subtle sense of humor. Anyone genuinely interested in Russian history and up for a very scholarly tour through Soviet Russia should find this appealing.
Date published: 2022-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Timely Right now it is more important to understand the roots of communism Professor Hamburg does an outstanding job
Date published: 2022-03-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Great Content The content is very informative but the lecturer is really, really horrible. He sighs in almost every sentence and sounds so bored he bored me to death. I couldn't finish the lectures and hope I can get a refund. This is below The Great Courses standard and there are much better courses that give similar information
Date published: 2021-10-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Painful I had high hopes for this course because it dedicated a good amount of time (12 plus hours) to a short period of historical time (20th Century). This laser-focus attention usually signifies a great opportunity to learn a lot of new things about the subject at hand and not just review the major events we are already familiar with during the condensed time period. Unfortunately, at course's end I can't say I can really recall learning anything new that isn't present in the various other courses from TGC centering around Russia and the time period in general. In fact there were events that inexplicably weren't even touched on at all such as the Berlin airlift and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Cold War barely had a few moments time dedicated to it. My childhood coincided with the tail end of the Cold War and I remember how large of a shadow it cast on the lives of every person in everyday life. How can a course on the USSR not cover the Cold War in more depth? When you have 12 hours to discuss a short period of historical time why would you leave out some of the most defining events of the Cold War? I was excited to understand the Cold War from the Russian point of view but instead we got none of that. While I wasn't a big fan of the "A History of Russia - From Peter the Great to Gorbachev" course, you will learn more there in my opinion. And of course there are numerous other courses that cover Russia during the time period surveyed that I would highly recommend: 1- War, Peace, and Power: Diplomatic History of Europe, 1500-2000 2- Foundations of Western Civilization II: A History of the Modern Western World 3- Europe and Western Civilization in the Modern Age 4- World War I: The "Great War" 5- World War II: A Military and Social History 6- World War II: Battlefield Europe The professor's talking style made it difficult to get fully engrossed in the course. He speaks slow, sounds somewhat sleepy, and his statements/conclusions aren't exactly earth-shattering or at least thought-provoking. I hate to hold one's talking style against them because we all have our idiosyncrasies but the reality is I just couldn't get engaged. Another turn off was his constant sighing or laughing. The former gave the impression he was either tired or dreading how to take up the task of tackling the next subject and the latter (while meant as a way to reinforce how obviously terrible the communist state conducted themselves) was not appropriate for the topics he was discussing. The first time I can understand his frame of mind but the continuous habit was so out of place. Even if he wasn't trying to be dismissive of the topics at hand, the gravity of the atrocities didn't warrant such a constant reaction. If you are interested in Russian history and are debating which course to select from TGC catalog, I would recommend going with one of the other courses I referenced above.
Date published: 2020-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So intriguing I am so glad I took this course. The professor was clear, concise and easy to follow. The professor's voice and affect are a little dull, but his wealth of information, his choices of what to cover and his teaching style compensated for that. The material was so fascinating, I told my friends and family tidbits I had learned from the course all the time. Despite listening to hours and hours of this comprehensive course, it made me want to learn even more! I think that's the sign of a good teacher.
Date published: 2020-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bears Repeated Listening I love this course and have listened to it every couple of years since I bought it. What I really love the most I think is the instructor's human perspective: he doesn't focus so much on ideology as on the experience of living within the civilization of Soviet Russia. To that end we learn about what people had to eat, the conditions under which they had to work and - I think this was my favorite part -- the jokes they told. That's important in a country with an unfree press where records were regularly falsified and doctored and where a heterodox comment could get you sent to the gulag: a joke reflects people's understanding of what was really going on, even if it's artful and oblique. The audio was a little difficult at some points. I think it's one of the earlier courses developed by TGC/TTC.
Date published: 2019-02-25
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Overview

No modern nation has had a history as traumatic and controversial as Russia's. Interpreting that history is made all the more challenging by the frequency with which Russia has been convulsed by different forces. This course provides both facts and interpretations of Russia's dramatic experience with Soviet Communism, and highlights major events including the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalinism, and Gorbachev's perestroika and glasnost.

About

Gary Hamburg

We must all appreciate from the outset the duration, complexity, and uniqueness of recorded Russian history.

INSTITUTION

Claremont McKenna College

Dr. Gary Hamburg is Otto M. Behr Professor of European History at Claremont McKenna College. He earned his A.B., A.M., and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University. Dr. Hamburg received Fulbright grants for advanced research at Leningrad State University (now St. Petersburg University) and at Moscow University. He is the author of Politics of the Russian Nobility 1881-1905 and Boris Chicherin and Early Russian Liberalism, 1828-1866, and he edited and translated several books on modern Russian politics, including two volumes of P. N. Miliukov's history of the 1917 revolution. His articles have examined various issues in Russian social, political, and intellectual history.

Nicholas II and the Russian Empire

01: Nicholas II and the Russian Empire

This opening lecture includes discussion of the problems facing Russian peasants and workers in the early 1900s. The Bolshevik seizure of power could have succeeded only in a country with a discredited government, ethnic resentments, and social antagonisms.

47 min
The Failure of Constitutional Government

02: The Failure of Constitutional Government

Russia's failed constitutional experiment raises the fundamental question of whether such a government can ever succeed in a large, multinational empire.

45 min
Russia and the First World War

03: Russia and the First World War

This lecture discusses Russia's entrance into the Great War, the military-political crisis of 1915, failure of the Brusilov offensive in 1916, and isolation of the tsar. The lecture also sketches the atmosphere in the imperial capital, Petrograd, just before Nicholas II was overthrown.

45 min
Lenin and the Origins of Bolshevism

04: Lenin and the Origins of Bolshevism

An overview of Lenin's life and revolutionary strategies provides context for a detailed discussion of his contributions to Marxism and the "three roads" to Communism imagined by Russian Marxists.

46 min
Lenin Comes to Power

05: Lenin Comes to Power

This lecture describes the two revolutions of 1917, the installation of a provisional government, and Lenin's successful efforts to undermine it.

46 min
Lenin and the Making of a Bolshevik State

06: Lenin and the Making of a Bolshevik State

The lecture focuses on significant Bolshevik policies between 1917 and 1921: imposition of partocracy, suppression of "bourgeois democracy" attempts to destroy the market system, and resolution of the nationalities problem.

46 min
The Twenties

07: The Twenties

The emergence of Stalin and his eventual victory in power struggles of the 1920s bring an end to Lenin's New Economic Policy and the start of ill-fated attempts to collective agriculture.

46 min
Stalin and the

08: Stalin and the "Second October Revolution"

The first Five-Year Plan and the chaos it wrought in the industrial sector serve as the focus of this fast-paced lecture. Stalin's imposition of an artificial famine that cost millions of lives is also discussed.

46 min
Stalin and the

09: Stalin and the "Great Terror"

Party purges and "show trials" from 1934 to 1938 are examined as key evidence of state terror during the Stalinist period.

48 min
Stalin, Hitler, and the Road to War

10: Stalin, Hitler, and the Road to War

This lecture treats the diplomatic origins of World War II including Stalin's controversial German policy, Hitler's attitude toward the East and toward Bolshevism, and the 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact.

48 min
The USSR at War

11: The USSR at War

The war against Germany was a decisive test of Stalin's statesmanship - and he nearly failed.

46 min
Stalin's Last Years

12: Stalin's Last Years

This lecture analyzes the Soviet Union's painful reconstruction after World War II and behind-the-scenes political maneuvering occasioned by Stalin's death.

46 min
De-Stalinization

13: De-Stalinization

In the three decades after Stalin's death, Communist party leadership hesitantly distances itself from elements of the Stalinist system without ever abandoning the entire edifice that he had built.

46 min
Gorbachev and Perestroika

14: Gorbachev and Perestroika

This lecture concentrates on the limits and internal contradictions of Gorbachev's plans for "perestroika." It also discusses the appearance of party opposition to "perestroika" and how that opposition was overcome.

46 min
The Disintegration of the USSR

15: The Disintegration of the USSR

Re-emerging national independence movements in major Soviet republics, previously hidden social antagonisms, and gradual exposure of the truth about Stalinism doom Gorbachev's plans to failure.

47 min
Rebirth of Russia or the Rebirth of the USSR?

16: Rebirth of Russia or the Rebirth of the USSR?

Russia's prospects remain uncertain for prosperity, democracy, and the rule of law. But reasons for cautious optimism spur additional thought and analysis.

47 min