Russian Moment in World History

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Critical Summary The Russian Moment in World History By Marshall Poe In this book, Marshall Poe explores the many episodes of the Russian past and exposes many theories and explanations as to how and why the success of those societies through time was misconceived, misunderstood or underappreciated. In the first chapter, “What Russia Is and What It Is Not”, Poe disparages the foolish assumption that Russians have been predisposed to having authoritarian governments and argues that Russia has not been uncharacteristically imperialistic. In fact, all great countries have expanded through war. He explores the rise to power and the sudden decline of Russia in an attempt to show the meaning of the Russian experience in world history. Poe traces the migration of the Slavs to the North and describes their encounter with the Vikings, outlines Russia’s emergence as a regional European power and its consequences. In the second chapter, “From Slavs to Rus’”, Poe goes through the record of the Slavs’ population of Russia. They managed to survive and develop impressive agricultural techniques and to survive in the tough north, a region no European power had colonized. Greeks and Romans didn’t live in the region which explains why technological levels of East Slavs were primitive. In spite of strong agriculture, there was no surplus for innovation. The region was again conquered, this time by the Mongols who were to say the least, a fiscal drain on the population. However, they did not really affect the local culture mainly because of their different lifestyles and religion but rather acted as absentee landlords. In “From Rus’ to Russia”, Poe shows how in the 15th century Mongol power was waning at which point, Moscow turned to Europe. The commonality of Christianity gave them ground for communication and Europe was diplomatically welcoming. At this point, they
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