A Collection of Annotations on Russian History

This year, our Department of History began to publish, along with detailed abstracts of new publications, which used to be our main ‘product’, also shorter annotations. We are still working at their format, but it is already clear that they will only contain the most important information about an article or a monograph, without any detailed retelling of its contents. We hope it will allow us to reflect in our abstract journal much more new publications than we were able to do previously. Such an opportunity seems to be quite significant, as in the Soviet time there were some thirty employees at our department, and twelve issues of the abstract journal were printed a year, whereas now we have only fifteen researchers and are only able to publish four issues of the journal a year, so the selection of sources for abstracts is actually rather far from following any regular criteria. Writing annotations along with detailed abstracts is still an experimental work, its perspectives are rather unclear, but the annotations which I have already written are worth to publish them in the Internet.

As the annotations are rather short, I will post all of them in a single PDF file with a set of bookmarks instead of a table of contents. As soon as new annotations appear, I will update the file and announce this in the blog.

My own main field of research interest is the history of the Soviet Union, especially before and in the time of the Second World War; so here I am going to post mostly annotations of books on the Soviet history or on history of post-Soviet Russia. I also decided to limit myself to annotations of books published in Russian. There are quite a lot of reference resources in the English part of the Internet, and they are much more informative than my personal Web site. On the other hand, the most part of Russian academic literature still remains almost unknown for the international research community because only a small part of papers is translated into English. I hope my collection of annotations will become one more bridge, although a bit narrow, between Russian historians and their colleagues in other countries.

Download the collection of annotations (PDF, 79 Kb).

COLLECTION OF ABSTRACTS AND REVIEWS: The First World War: Contemporary Historiography (in Russian)

Первая мировая война: современная историография

Pervaia mirovaia voina: Sovremennaia istoriografiia: Sbornik obzorov i referatov, ed. by V. P. Liubin and M. M. Mints (Moscow: INION RAN, 2014).  In Russian.

In this collection, we tried to show the current condition of research on history of World War I.  The main part of literature we have used, form the monographs and collections of articles printed by several well-known publishing houses in 2013–14, by the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the conflict, including works on its military, political, social and cultural history, on such problems as memory about the war, propaganda, and national identity.  The main attention in the collection is paid to today’s historiographical debates.  Several national historic schools are represented, including such countries as Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, France, and the United States.

The text of the collection (PDF, 3.2 Mb).



V. P. Liubin, ‘Western historians about World War I’ (Review article)

M. M. Mints, ‘Germany in the First World War: modern German historiography’ (Review article)

‘“Initial catastrophe”: the anniversary of the First World War as a reason for reinterpretation of the history of the 20th century’ (Joint abstract)

‘An investigation of Fritz Fischer on World War I and the European historiography’ (Joint abstract)

Abstract: V. V. Mironov, Avstro-vengerskaia armiia v Pervoi mirovoi voine: razrushenie oplota Gabsburgskoi monarkhii [Austro-Hungarian army in the First World War: the collapse of the stronghold of the Habsburg Monarchy]

‘1914–2014: An anniversary of the Great War in history. A view from France’ (Joint abstract)

Abstract: Christopher M. Clark, The sleepwalkers: how Europe went to war in 1914

Abstract: Heather Jones, ‘As the century approaches: the regeneration of First World War historiography’

Marco Pluviano, ‘Contemporary Italian historiography and the First World War’ (Review article)

Abstract: Emilio Gentile, Di colpi di pistola, dieci milioni di morti, la fine di un mondo: storia illustrata della Grande Guerra [Two pistol shoots, ten million killed, the end of the world: an illustrated history of the Great War]

Abstract: Celia Malone Kingsbury, For home and country: World War I propaganda on the home front

‘The history of the First World War in interpretation of Russian and foreign historians’ (Joint abstract)

‘The First World War in the eyes of its participants and our contemporaries’ (Joint abstract)

S. V. Bespalov, ‘Social-economic development of imperial Russia in the years of the First World War’ (Review article)

Abstract: Anthony Heywood, ‘Spark of revolution? Railway disorganisation, freight traffic and Tsarist Russia’s war effort, July 1914—March 1917’

Abstract: Andrzej Chwalba, Samobójstwo Europy: Wielka wojna 1914–1918 [European self-murder: the Great War 1914–18]

Abstract: V. A. Pyl’kin, Voennoplennye Avstro-Vengrii, Germanii i Osmanskoi imperii na Riazanskoi zemle v gody mirovoi voiny i revoliutsii [Prisoners of war from Austria-Hungary, Germany and the Ottoman Empire in the land of Riazan’ in the years of the world war and revolution]

L. N. Zhvanko, ‘The First World War and the refugees on the Eastern Front: new research (late 20th—early 21st century)’ (Review article)

Abstract: L. N. Zhvanko,  Бiженцi першої свiтової вiйни: український вимiр (1914–1918 рр.) [The refugees of World War I: Ukrainian reality (1914–18)]

Abstract: Peter Englund, Stridens skönhet och sorg: första världskriget i 212 korta kapitel [The beauty and the sorrow: an intimate history of the First World War]


Bibliography on World War I

In the fall of 2014 we finished our bibliographical database on history of Russia in World War I, it didn’t function for a while after the fire, but they have just restored it from a backup.  It’s available at http://www.inion.ru/I_publ.html and contains information about books and articles from the library of our institute, that is, about almost everything published in Russia and also about some foreign publications.  We’ll probably be able later to add information about books available at some other major libraries as well.  The interface is only in Russian, but it’s quite simple.  Search by author, title, annotation and keywords is available, there’s also a subject directory.  Each reference in the search results has a list of tags, each of them is a link to the list of corresponding references.  My role was mainly the communication to the programmers.

The collection of reviews and abstracts The First World War: Contemporary Historiography has been published

Our collection of reviews and abstracts Pervaia mirovaia voina: Sovremennaia istoriografiia (The First World War: Contemporary Historiography) was published this summer (in Russian only).  I was one of the editors (the chief editor was Valerii P. Liubin).




Review article: Valerii P. Liubin, Western Historians about World War I

Review article: Mikhail M. Mints, Germany in World War I: Contemporary German Historiography

Joint abstract: Urkatastrophe: Anniversary of World War I as a Reason for Rethinking the History of the Twentieth Century

Joint abstract: The Work by Fritz Fischer and the European Historiography

Abstract: V. V. Mironov, Avstro-vengerskaia armiia v Pervoi mirovoi voine: razrushenie oplota Gabsburgskoi monarkhii  (Tambov: Izdatel’skii dom Tambovskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta imeni G. R. Derzhavina, 2011) [Austro-Hungarian army in the First World War: destruction of the stronghold of Habsburg Monarchy].

Joint abstract: 1914—2014: The Anniversary of World War I in History: A View from France

Abstract: Christopher M. Clark, Die Schlafwandler: wie Europa in den Ersten Weltkrieg zog (Bonn: Bpb, 2013) [The sleepwalkers: how Europe went to war in 1914].

Abstract: H. Jones, ‘As the Centenary Approaches: The Regeneration of First World War Historiography’, in The Historical Journal 56 (Cambridge, 2013), 857-878.

Review article: Marco Pluviano, Contemporary Italian Historiography and the First World War

Abstract: Emilio Gentile, Due colpi di pistola, dieci milioni di morti, la fine di un mondo: Storia illustrata della Grande Guerra (Roma; Bari: Gius. Laterza & Figli Spa, 2014) [Two shots from a pistol, tens of millions of killed, an end of the world: An illustrated history of the Great War].

Abstract: Celia Malone Kingsbury, For Home and Country: World War I Propaganda on the Home Front (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010).

Joint abstract: The First World War in Russian and Foreign Historians’ Interpretation

Joint abstract: The Images of the First World War in the Thought of Its Participants and Our Contemporaries

Review article: Sergei V. Bespalov, Socio-Economic Development of Imperial Russia in the Years of the First World War

Abstract: A. Heywood, ‘Spark of Revolution? Railway Disorganization, Freight Traffic and Tsarist Russia’s War Effort, July 1914—March 1917’, in Europe-Asia Studies 65, no. 4 (2013): 753—772.

Abstract: Andrzej Chwalba, Samobójstwo Europy: Wielka wojna 1914–1918 (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2014) [Suicide of Europe: The Great War, 1914–1918].

Abstract: V. A. Pyl’kin, Voennoplennye Avstro-Vengrii, Germanii i Osmanskoi imperii na Riazanskoi zemle v gody mirovoi voiny i revoliutsii  (Moscow: Goriachaia liniia—Telekom, 2013) [Prisoners of war from Austria-Hungary, Germany and Ottoman Empire in Riazan’ land in the years of the world war and revolution].

Review Article: Liubov’ Zhvanko, The First World War and the Refugees on the Eastern Front: New Research (Late 20th—Early 21st Century)

Abstract: Liubov’ Zhvanko, Бiженцi першої свiтової вiйни: український вимiр (1914–1918 рр.) (Харкiв: Вiровець А.П. «Апостроф», 2012) [The refugees of the First World War: Ukrainian reality (1914–1918)].

Abstract: Peter Englund, Stridens skönhet och sorg: Första världskriget i 212 korta kapitel (Stockholm: Bokförlaget Atlantis AB, 2008) [The First World War in 212 Episodes].


Web-conference “Russia in the First World War: New trends and research directions”

Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, German Historical Institute in Moscow and Centre for French and Russian studies in Moscow are going to organize an international web-conference “Russia in the First World War: New trends and research directions” in August–October.  The main goal of the conference is to discuss the modern approaches to the history of Russia’s participation in World War I, new viewpoints and interpretations, new research directions and their perspectives.  The official announcement can be seen here (in Russian) :-)

A new section on history of the First World War has appeared on the website of the Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences

A new section on history of the First World War has appeared on the website of our institute: http://www.inion.ru/ww1 (in Russian). Now it contains preprints of a collection of abstracts and reviews Russia in the First World War: New Directions of Research and of a bibliographical index of literature of 1991–2011, that were prepared by a group of our researchers (including me ;-)) for a grant of the Russian Humanitarian Research Foundation, and also some abstracts that were published in recent years and were not in an open access in the Internet until now. I hope we’ll add some more information next year :-)

COLLECTION OF REVIEWS AND ABSTRACTS: Patriotic War of 1812 in Contemporary Historiography (in Russian)

Otechestvennaia voina 1812 goda v sovremennoi istoriografii: Sbornik obzorov i referatov, ed. O. V. Bol’shakova (Moscow, 2012).

The text of the collection (PDF, 1 MB, in Russian).



Abstract: Charles Esdaile, Napoleon’s Wars: An International History, 1803–1815 (London; New York: Allen Lane, 2007)

Abstract: D. Lieven, Russia against Napoleon: the True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace (New York: Viking, 2010)

Abstract: A. Castelot, The Russian Campaign [A. Castelot, La campagne russe (Paris: Perrin, 2002)]

Oksana V. Babenko, The Russian Campaign of Napoleon I in Polish Historiography (Joint abstract)

Abstract: N. A. Troitskii, Alexander I Against Napoleon [N. A. Troitskii, Aleksandr I protiv Napoleona (Moscow: Iauza: Eksmo, 2007)]

Abstract: V. M. Bezotosnyi, Intelligence and Parties’ Plans in 1812 [V. M. Bezotosnyi, Razvedka i plany storon v 1812 godu (Moscow: Rossiiskaia politicheskaia entsiklopediia, 2005)]

Abstract: A. I. Popov, The Grande Armée in Russia. Pursuing a Mirage [A. I. Popov, Velikaia armiia v Rossii. Pogonia za mirazhom (Samara: NTTs, 2002)]

Oksana V. Babenko, The Fatherland War of 1812 in Works of L. L. Ivchenko (Joint abstract)

Abstract: I. Iu. Lapina, Russian Territorial Militia in 1812–1814 [I. Iu. Lapina, Zemskoe opolchenie Rossii 1812–1814 godov (Saint Petersburg: Izdatel’stvo Sankt-Peterburgskogo gosudarstvennogo arkhitekturno-stroitel’nogo universiteta, 2007)]

Abstract: S. V. Belousov, Provincial Society and the Fatherland War of 1812 (Evidence from Middle Volga Region) [S. V. Belousov, Provintsial’noe obshchestvo i Otechestvennaia voina 1812 goda (po materialam Srednego Povolzh’ia (Penza: PGPU, 2007)]

Abstract: Ralph Ashby, Napoleon against Great Odds: The Emperor and the Defenders of France, 1814 (Santa Barbara, Denver; Oxford: Praeger, 2010)

Abstract: Andrew Roberts, Waterloo June 18, 1815: The Battle for Modern Europe (New York; London, etc.: Harper Collins, 2005)

Abstract: David King, Vienna, 1814 : How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna (New York : Harmony Books, 2008)

Abstract: Karl J. Mayer, Napoleon’s Soldiers: Everyday Life in the Grande Armée [Karl J. Mayer, Napoleons Soldaten: Alltag in der Grande Armée (Darmstadt: Primus Verlag, 2008)]

Julia V. Dunaeva, Female Faces of the Napoleonic Wars (Joint abstract)

Ol’ga V. Bol’shakova, 1812 and Russian National Self-Consciousness: Anglophone Historiography (Review article)

Abstract: Napoleonic Wars on Mental Maps of Europe: Historical Consciousness and Literary Myths [Napoleonovskie voiny na mental’nykh kartakh Evropy: Istoricheskoe soznanie i literaturnye mify, ed. N. M. Velikaia and E. D. Gal’tsova (Moscow: Kliuch-Ts, 2011)]

Abstract: Richard Stites, Decembrists with a Spanish Accent, in Kritika 12, no. 1 (2011): 5–23


We offer our readers a collection, prepared by the forces of the Department of History of the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences of Russian Academy of Sciences, timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. It seeks to give the slice of modern historiography, Russian and Western, with the twofold aim. On the one hand, the collection is designed to help the reader to get an idea of the topics and trends of modern studies of this important historical event, on the other—it contains a wealth of factual material that should be useful for anyone interested in history.

The War of 1812 has left an impressive mark in the history and culture of Russia. For two centuries it had been the subject of many volumes of historical and literary works, numerous paintings, museum exhibitions, films and even computer games. Although there were a great number of various wars in Russian history, “the twelfth year storm” stands out first of all for its images, familiar to everyone on the Leo Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace, appear in the public mind again and again during the turmoil. They embody the examples and samples of Russian patriotism that resonate in all layers of the population.

That is why the anniversaries of the French invasion of Russia were always celebrated throughout the country: celebrating its century in 1912, became an important social event, and to the 150th anniversary, the opening of such important monuments was timed as the Borodino Panorama in Moscow. Anniversaries stimulated the development of historical research as well. In 1912, seven-volume The War of 1812 and the Russian society was published which was attended by many of the leading historians of the time. 50 years later, in 1962, Soviet historiography was enriched by a number of interesting studies and publications of documents prepared for the nationwide anniversary. However, it was then that in the Soviet historical science, a model for studying the War of 1812 was established which was based on the ideology of the Cold War. The Iron Curtain by the time not only separated the Soviet scientific community from the international one, but also divided the Soviet researchers themselves; as a result, the war of 1812 was studied by specialists on the history of the USSR, while such topics as the War of the Third Coalition, foreign campaigns of the Russian army in 1813–14, the Congress of Vienna, became the prerogative of specialists in world history.

This bias is starting to be overcome, especially in Western historiography, which is no longer inclined to regard Russia in isolation, as something unique and dangerous. For Western scholars who study the “revolutionary era” in Europe and America, 1780s—1820s, the Russian Campaign is an important, but relatively poorly studied episode. However, after the end of the Cold War in the interpretations of Western historians, changes could be observed toward a more balanced and objective evaluations, recognition of the importance of the Russian Campaign for the course of the Napoleonic Wars as a whole.

In the new millennium, much more active study of the history of the Napoleonic era in Europe began. Perhaps we can talk about the beginning of a new phase of research on this topic, which is characterized by a high level of international cooperation. In modern research, much attention is given to Russia as well, as, for example, in the monograph of the British historian Charles Esdaile on the history of the Napoleonic Wars (see abstract prepared by Ol’ga V. Bol’shakova). This material opens the collection and places the Patriotic War of 1812 in the European context.

An extensive summary of the book by D. Lieven, a professor at the London School of Economics (the author of the abstract is Michael M. Mints), is entirely devoted to Russia and its struggle with Napoleon. The War of 1812 is presented in the text as a component part of a long historical process, as the culmination of the Napoleonic Wars.

French historiography of the campaign in 1812 was known for its anti-Russian position, but in the 1990s there was a tendency to revise one-sided views. An example of such a re-evaluation is presented in a library-research paper written by Tatiana M. Fadeeva on the book by French journalist, historian and writer A. Castelot. Polish historiography of the Russian Campaign, still not entirely free from secular bias against Russia, is reflected in the joint abstract written by Oksana V. Babenko.

Important episodes of Napoleonic Wars, not enough known for Russian readers, are highlighted in library-research papers written by Sergei V. Bespalov and Victor M. Shevyrin which address the final stage of the battle in Europe in 1814–15. A number of foreign policy issues is reflected in abstracts that deal with the Russian intelligence, comparative biographies of two emperors Napoleon and Alexander, and, finally, the ending event of the Napoleonic Wars’ era—the Congress of Vienna and the creation of the Holy Alliance (papers by Vadim S. Konovalov and Julia V. Dunaeva).

Considerable attention in Russian and Western historiography is payed to the study of everyday life in both the Russian, and Napoleon’s armies (abstracts by Oksana Babenko and Michael Mints). “Female face” of Napoleonic Wars is a topic of a joint abstract written by Julia Dunaeva.

New for the post-Soviet historiography aspect in the study of the War of 1812 and the Napoleonic Wars in general is special attention to memory and mythology. The first sign in this respect was the international conference held in the Russian State University for the Humanities in 2011 (an abstract of its proceedings is submitted by Irina E. Eman). Another event which is important for further development of international cooperation in the investigation of this subject was the conference “After the storm. 1812 in the collective memory of Russia and Europe,” organized by the German Historical Institute in Moscow (May 2012). The role of war in 1812 in the formation of Russian national identity is the topic of a review of English literature, written by Ol’ga Bol’shakova.

The collection is concluded with a library-research paper devoted to the Decembrists’ movement, which is discussed in a posthumously published article by American historian Richard Stites in the European context, as a legacy of the Napoleonic Wars.

Ol’ga V. Bol’shakova

A collection of reviews and library-research papers, “Fatherland War of 1812 in Modern Historiography”, has been published

A new collection of reviews and library-research papers, Fatherland War of 1812 in Modern Historiography (in Russian), prepared by our Department, has been published. You can buy it, for example, here: http://www.ani-books.ru/vcd-40-1-2478/goodsinfo.html (70 rubles).

I am going to post it here as soon as possible, my own materials are already posted.

Continue reading ‘A collection of reviews and library-research papers, “Fatherland War of 1812 in Modern Historiography”, has been published’ »

JOINT ABSTRACT: The History of the Russian–American Relations (in Russian)

Published in Sotsial’nye i gumanitarnye nauki. Otechestvennaia i zarubezhnaia literatura. Seriia 5, Istoriia, no. 4 (Moscow, 2010), 162–68 (in Russian). Continue reading ‘JOINT ABSTRACT: The History of the Russian–American Relations (in Russian)’ »