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Revolutions and the Making of the Modern World

From Peter the Great to Karl Marx

James Cracraft

Edited By William Benton Whisenhunt

Professor James Cracraft is an established specialist on early modern Russian history, particularly the era of Peter the Great (1682-1725), tsar and first Russian emperor. This volume gathers some of the many key articles and reviews published by him over the last forty years and more in a wide variety of scholarly venues, some of which are not readily accessible. They constitute in sum important contributions not only to Russian history broadly understood, but also to the study of history itself. The collection will include a preface by the editor and an introduction by the author, where he will sum up his decades of historical work and point to new avenues of needed research, all the while emphasizing that "history" properly understood does not exist somewhere on its own but is the creation, however imperfect, of professional historians (as "chemistry", say, is properly understood as the work, however imperfect, of professional chemists).

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The nineteen essays and articles collected in this volume were initially published over the last half-century in books issued by academic presses and in various scholarly journals. The time lag from initial publication to the present as well as the variety and specialized nature of the books and journals in question suggested that it might be helpful to fellow historians of Russia along with historians more generally if these essays and articles were brought together in one place. Aside from this question of convenience, the volume has also been assembled in the conviction that professionally researched and published history retains enduring value as a telling reflection of the mental climate that prevailed during the times in which it was written–in this case, during the era of the Cold War (1945–1991) and its aftermath. The outlook and concerns of historians, surely, no less than those of other people, are conditioned by the vicissitudes of the world in which we live and work.

I might expand for a moment on this latter point, and on the title chosen for this collection. Whether as the Russian Empire or as the Soviet Union, the geographical-linguistic entity known since the later Middle Ages as Russia (Rossiia) has played a major role in the making of the modern world. Dominating at one time or another more than one-sixth of the land surface of the earth, and incorporating within its boundaries a wide range of European and Asian ethnic ←ix | x→minorities as...

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