Suny's work is an excellent one, though this edition is certainly dated. Indeed it is likely the best textbook treatment available for a course on Russia from 1917 to 1995. As to the strengths there are many: it is well-written, balanced, comprehensive, and there is a most desirable objectivity in the way that Suny approaches the subject matter. I understand how expensive pictures can be in the text of this kind, and while the pictures included are adequate,
perhaps more photos of the suffering masses in the different segments of the last century could sensitize our students of today.
James Crowl, Longwood University This is a serious, thoughtful, and solid work. The book is methodically written and well organized. It is easy to navigate. It provides in-depth analysis of many key issues of Soviet history. I don't think any specific changes would make it more likely for me to adopt this book for the courses I am teaching, but I am glad to provide recommendations that may improve the new edition overall.
-more pictures and photographs;
-references and connections to the incredible wealth of online Russian history resources
-better maps - Russia should not look like one big blank spot. It has so many regional and ethnic divisions, including, by the way, Chechnya (see p. 497);
-linear charts look too dry and mathematical.
Leonid Trofimov, Queen's College Following my point from above, I would say that at $55-60, The Soviet Experiment is more reasonably priced than the Thompson that I currently assign. I was very impressed with The Soviet Experiment when I read it more closely for this review. The book puts the diversity, especially ethnic and national diversity, of the USSR in the forefront of the historical narrative. The "nationalities" make up an important part of the story, rather than a footnote at its end.
Similarly, the book also gives a sense of the diversity of experience by gender, class and region, with attention paid in each chapter to the "average" people who lived through the wars and political programs. I think a new edition would be wonderful - I think the three changes above could make this
book the best on the market for this sort of Modern Russia/USSR survey.
Eliza Ablovatksi, Kenyon College The Soviet Experiment is well-written and accessible, fully appropriate for undergraduates. If I was teaching an entry-level course on Soviet history, I would consider assigning it. Fundamentally, this is an excellent text which is now almost 10 years old and hence needs to incorporate the work of historians over the past decade. Doubtless nobody knows this better than Ron Suny.
H. Hogan, Oberlin College Its main strengths, besides clear writing, are that the author lays out a range of historiographic positions on major issues (including what was, as of the book's initial publication, the positions of the very latest studies); that the author presents his own interpretative framework forcefully but without discounting other views; that the author deftly balances political, social, and cultural history without ignoring matters of diplomatic history; that the author
provides clear discussions of main pillars of Soviet ideology and discusses its contested nature; that the author provides anecdotal material and fragments from documents, but always in context.
Michael C. Hickey, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvaniashow more