`What could be more universal than death?' asks an anthropologist quoted by Merridale.  Death is a major aspect of the history of any society, and one which brings out its members' deepest beliefs. But in twentieth century Russia it has been peculiarly dominant, because so many deaths have been premature or violent.
s the deft pun in the title reminds us, one of the ways in which nations were both imagined and institutionalised in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was through the conscripting of young men into the army. The ways in which they were called up, selected, trained and led, and the arrangements made for their families left behind deeply affected the nature of nationhood.
History on this scale is a daunting task, not just for the breadth of scholarship it requires but also because it lays before the author the powerful temptations of platitude and over-generalization. Geoffrey Hosking, as he has amply shown elsewhere, is a historian who can draw a big picture without losing his curiosity, his feel for detail, or his capacity for concise but penetrating summary.
This book is about four episodes of excess mortality in Russia/the USSR: 1914-22, 1931-38, 1941-45, and the 1990s. The book is aimed at the general reader, although it may be of most use to older schoolchildren and students on many courses.
The First World War is Russia’s ‘forgotten war’. After the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917, the memory of the war was subsumed into the history of the revolutionary process.
For many years, just two simple narratives dominated the history of the Soviet Union. The first story was the regime's account of itself. In this account, socialism had been established from 1917 onwards. The decisiveness of the Bolshevik Party in arguing for the October Revolution had created the possibility of the Communist system.
Cars for Comrades is a kind of ‘total history’ of the automobile and ‘car culture’ in the Soviet Union, one that is exhaustively researched and engagingly written.
What is a ‘Companion’ for?
Japanese Society at War deepens our understanding of the impact of the Russo-Japanese War on Japanese society.
The revolutionary poet Vladimir Mayakovsky famously proclaimed in his suicide note, ‘the love boat has crashed against byt.’ That the banal problems of everyday life (byt) had undermined the hopes of the Revolution has since been widely inferred in evaluations of the Soviet system.