Get a free audiobook

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

Narrated by: Gary Hamburg
Length: 12 hrs and 10 mins
5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

CDN$ 14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

From the Oval Office to the streets of Moscow, world leaders and ordinary citizens alike share interest and concerns about Russia. Can democracy survive there? What does the future hold for the once expansive and still powerful Russian nation? Is Soviet Communism truly dead?

These are the kinds of questions diplomats struggle with every day. And now, through this series of 16 incisive lectures by an acclaimed scholar of Russian history, you can begin investigating them for yourself as you take a probing historical journey through the recent history and near future of a key world power. Whether your chief interest is Russian or world history, political theory, or international relations, you'll take away fresh knowledge and insight as Professor Hamburg examines the improbable origins of Communist rule in Russia, the ascent of the Red Star to its zenith, and its decline and apparent end in the wake of 1989's events.

Using new material from previously sealed Soviet archives and covering recent controversial findings by both Russian and Western scholars, he begins with the failures of the czarist regime and the horrors of the First World War, then takes you through the bloody era of Josef Stalin's purges and beyond to Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika to offer you a thoroughgoing analysis of the Soviet experiment.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©1996 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1996 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
No reviews are available
Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Bob Savage
  • WARWICK, RI, US
  • 2014-11-15

Prof. Hamburg Randomly Picked Topics

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Gary Hamburg?

I may pick other Great Courses but I will be more careful to see when the actual date that the lectures were taped. Bill Clinton was still president of the United States and Yeltsin was President of Russia when these lectures were taped. Professor Hamburg was given his predictions on what would happen in Russia after the fall of Communism. More than 14 years have gone by since they lecture were taped and much has happen. As a result, the last lecture was very out of date and gave no preceptive what Russia has actually become under Putin. The "release date" stated 2013 but this is obviously meaningless because it has no relation to when the lectures was actually taped.

What could The Great Courses have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Discussed the date that the lectures were given.

What character would you cut from The Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism: A History of 20th-Century Russia?

N/A

Any additional comments?

It does not appear that the professor actually tried to explain why the USSR fell. He randomly picked topics to include but skipped crucial events. He did not include Poland and East Germany's efforts and final success in breaking away from the USSR and the USSR's decision not to send in troops to stop them from breaking away as a prellude to the USSR republics also seeking to break with it. He did not even discuss the USSR's defeat in Afghanistan as a factor in the eventual breakup of the USSR. Not really a good effort.

27 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Karen
  • 2018-03-28

What happened to Brezhnev!?!?!

The 20 or so years that Brezhnev was in power accounts for about 27% of soviet history and almost half the Cold War but he scarcely got 15 minutes of the total lecture! If you blinked you would have missed him!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lance
  • Maryland, United States
  • 2013-11-13

Great introduction but leaves lots of questions

I really enjoyed the professor and the course. It is a very historical overview of the forces that drove acceptance of Soviet communism, an overview of its decline, and some background behind where it may be headed.

Highly recommended as an introduction to this material.

Reasons why I dropped a star. I didn't get a sense as to what the people did, who the people were, who the people became as they progressed throughout what was about a 100 year window of Russian history. I get that Communism minimizes individual contributions and thus this is not necessarily noteworthy, but I would have liked to see a more systematic analysis of how the culture of the country changed as the years progressed. Another reason is the course seemed to stop somewhere in the 1990s. Ok, great but I feel like I need to read alot more about Yeltsin and Putin to understand where Russia is today and what its prospects are. The professor I think could have accommodated more discussion about the Russian people and culture but sometimes gets sidetracked on points that were interesting but somewhat academic. Great I know and get that he is a teacher but for an intro course, I'd rather be focused on some key themes and keep the the academic / pedantic stuff to a minimum.

Loved the course. Really liked the teacher. This is highly recommended for those looking for an introduction to the rise and fall of Soviet Communism. There may be better intros out there but this worked well for me.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Michael Anthony Novak
  • Saint Leo University, Florida
  • 2016-09-25

Good, but a little incomplete

Professor Hamburg's work is engaging, in conversation with the scholarship around him, and is a fine example of the historian's task. This latter is by virtue both of his willingness to offer insightful assessments where he can, and by being modest where information is lacking. There are two drawbacks. The lectures, recorded and published around 1997/1998, are now (September 2016) feeling a little dated in not continuing on to the Putin years, which are a continuation of the aftermath of the Soviet story. The other drawback is the feeling of disproportion in the series. Out of sixteen lectures, twelve are devoted to the period of the Revolution through the end of Stalin's reign in 1953. That leaves three lectures for the post-1953 Soviet Union, and one for the post-Soviet era, thus four lectures covering 43 years, after having had twelve lectures covering a comparable stretch of time. The Cold War is therefore treated hastily, more attention to internal Soviet life in the later period would be welcome, and details of the complex Soviet relationship to Europe are lacking. (For example, there is no mention of the Solidarity movement or the rise of John Paul II in Poland.) If the Teaching Company can give Dr. Hamburg the opportunity to add to and revise the latter part of these lectures, that would be an easy and welcome fix.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • 2016-02-18

One of the best of the Great Courses

Thorough, exhaustive, and very analytical re Soviet history. My two degrees in History say: "Great"

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Matthew
  • 2015-05-05

Introductory to Early Uprising

It's a good primer for sure, wanting to know more about early communist uprising. This is a good start. I enjoyed it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Matthew Kirkpatrick
  • 2018-07-25

good story bad audio

great information but the file jumped and skipped a lot making it hard to listen to and information was missed

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ark1836
  • 2018-06-29

A Bit Dated

This is an overall very good history of the Soviet Union from start to finish. The professor explains why and how the Soviet system took control of Russia. The course does not spend much time on the Cold War and barely mentions the Space Race. The course does better with WWII, though the professor repeats many times that he is not a military historian so he glosses over much of the military side of the conflict in favor or covering the experience on the home front. The professor does a good job explaining how the Soviet Union ended. Unfortunately, the last lecture focuses mostly on the "current situation," but the course was recorded in 1998 so the "current situation" is twenty years old and speculation on what Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev will do next is clearly out of date. This course would benefit from being refreshed, but it is still very informative.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Peter Avery
  • 2018-06-04

better sleep aid than course

Struggled to stay awake after drinking coffee for this. This was the 3rd on this subject that I am very fond of and I just can't make it on this one.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-04-26

Soviet history like you've never heard!

Loved It!!! Interesting from rise to fall! Each lecture had me excited for the next. I would highly recommend to anyone interested in Russia, the Cold War, or political science.