Books on the History of Russia and Eastern Europe


March 20, 2023

947. Books on Russia & Eastern Europe

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Further Reading:

Yaffa Eliach There Once Was a World, 1998.

Historian Yaffa Eliach was asked to contribute to a memorial for Holocaust victims. Instead, she decided to write this history of the lives of Eastern European and Russian Jews before World War II. It took her nineteen years to cover the roughly 900-year history.
Orlando Figes A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891-1924, 1998.

Since the Russian Revolution changed the trajectory of world history, many scholars consider it the defining event of the 20th century. Historian Orlando Figes looks at Russian society just before the revolution and demonstrates how each segment contributed to overthrowing the government and society as Russians knew it. He also speculates how the movement went from a people’s revolution to suppression and totalitarianism.

Candace Fleming The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, & the Fall of Imperial Russia, 2014.

Candace Fleming tells the story of the last Czar of Russia, Nicholas II, and his family. She shares how the luxurious private lives of the royal family contrast with their poverty-stricken and desperate subjects. The resulting Revolution led to the brutal ending of the Romanov dynasty.

Konstantin Ivanovich Globaschev The Truth of the Russian Revolution: The Memoirs of the Tsar’s Chief of Security and His Wife, 2017.

For two years before the 1917 Russian Revolution, Major General Konstantin Ivanovich Globachev headed up the Tsarist secret police. Here,  his memoir is presented alongside his wife’s memoirs. Together, they provide two completely different sides of events, his from an official capacity and hers from a personal perspective.

David Remnick Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire, 1994.

American journalist David Remnick shares this eyewitness account of the final days of the Soviet Union. Taking a scholarly approach to the background research, he provides an accurate and detailed historical account.

Michael Hickey, ed. Competing Voices from the Russian Revolution: Fighting Words, 2012.

In this title, documents produced by officials, revolutionaries, students, factory workers, and all sorts of Russian people, famous and unknown, are gathered together to present a mosaic of Russian thoughts in the years surrounding the Russian Revolution.

Yohanana Petrovsky-Shtern The Golden Age Shtetl: A New History of Jewish Life in East Europe, 2014.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, two-thirds of Eastern Europe’s Jews lived in shtetls. Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern finds they were not poor, dilapidated Jewish villages but lively, productive Jewish communities.

Harrison E. Salisbury The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad, 1996.

Journalist Harrison E. Salisbury spent a quarter century compiling information about the Nazi siege of Leningrad beginning in 1941. Under the grip of Hitler on the one hand and Stalin on the other, nearly three million people were reduced by half before it ended in 1944.

William Taubman Khrushchev: The Man and His Era, 2004.

Nikita Khrushchev, ruler of the Soviet Union for the ten years after Joseph Stalin, sought to reform communism and ease the Cold War. But, as William Taubman shares, his efforts often had the opposite effects of those he intended.

For more information about the Further Reading series, see Further Reading: Start Here.

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