Book Review Assignment

All undergraduates in the course must write a book review, which is to be posted to the appropriate section of the Peer Review website for the course no later than the end of the Thanksgiving Holiday (November 29). You are strongly advised to finish your draft and post it well before that date, in view of other requirements that accumulate near the end of the course. The final (hard-copy) version of your review is due in class, Friday, Dec. 10, but may, of course, be turned in before then. Part of this assignment includes reading all the reviews written by other students, and posting comments or questions to at least 6-8 of the reviews (you need not comment on all of them). This may be done in the same fashion as the commenting on the paper drafts posted for the other required course essays. While the graduate students do not write a book review, they are expected to read the reviews and add comments.

The book reviews should run the equivalent of 5-6 double-spaced typed pages and should include the following:

1. At the head of the first page, a complete bibliographic entry for the book being reviewed.
2. A clear and thorough summary of the book's content.
3. An indication of why the book is important.
4. A critique of the book which should focus on how convincing the argument is, the pluses and minuses of the author's use of sources and similar matters of substance.
5. A bibliography of any sources other than the book in question which have been consulted in preparation of the review.

It is permissible to consult published reviews of your book, since they may be of help in developing your critique. However, you should do so only after you have competed a good draft of your review on your own. If you use material from other reviews, appropriate credit must be given and quotation marks and notes supplied as necessary. To the degree that you can incorporate into your critique observations based on your other reading for the course, or, should you choose, any additional reading or skimming you think is relevant, you may have more to say than otherwise would be the case. It is important to remember that in the first instance a reviewer should critique the book that the author wrote, not some book that the reviewer wishes the author had written. That said, it is permissible after evaluating the book on its own terms to suggest ways in which the author might have done better using a different approach or focus. Part of the process of writing your review should be to find out something about the credentials of its author--which can mean determining his or her academic position, what other publications he or she has and thus what his or her specialization is. Such information can easily be obtained by on-line searches. If you are uncertain what a serious and scholarly book review may best be, you are advised to skim a bunch of reviews in standard journals such as Slavic Review, Russian History, American Historical Review, or The Russian Review. In so doing, be aware that not all reviews published in such journals meet the same high standards you are being asked to attain in your reviews for this assignment.

The list of books from which you will choose one to review is below on this page. I have decided not to put them on reserve. As you are deciding which book to choose, don't check out a bunch of them, but make your selection in the library. Remember, others in class may be looking for those you decide are not for you. There are undoubtedly options other than UW's library for obtaining copies, but if you start early, you can recall books already checked out. Good idea to ask in class though before you do that, since possibly the person next to you is already working on a review of a book you think you want. The regional library system (accessed through Summit) will turn up additional copies of many of the books and allows you to order them in through interlibrary loan, which works very quickly. Once you have decided which book you wish to review, send your instructor an e-mail indicating your choice. The aim here is to have only one review of each book, not several students reviewing the same book. So it is first come, first serve as to choices. You are advised to reserve your choice as soon as possible in the quarter, rather than wait until the last minute. Should you wish to propose reviewing a book other than one listed, you may do so, but you must have the approval of the instructor before reviewing something not on the list. An effort has been made here to include a high percentage of the serious and scholarly books in English on the early history of Rus; thus books of lesser quality or seriousness have not been included, nor should you be wasting your time reading and reviewing them. If you have good Russian, German or French and would wish to review a book in one of those languates, please consult your instructor for suggestions. Your efforts in working in a language other than English, especially if it is not your native one, would be highly valued. Should you elect to review a book not on the list below, it is essential that your choice be approved before you write the review.

Gustave Alef, The Muscovite Autocracy in the Time of Grand Prince Ivan III (=Forschungen zur osteuropšischen Geschichte, vol. 39) DR1.B45, vol. 39. A sizeable exploration of political history in a critical period of the development of the Muscovite state. For later and different views, see Kollmann, Kinship and Politics.

Samuel H. Baron, Explorations in Muscovite History (1991) DK71.B36 1991
or
Samuel H. Baron, Muscovite Russia : Collected Essays (1980) DK70.A2.B35. Baron's essays include a lot on merchants, exploration and cartography.

Samuel H. Baron and Nancy Shields Kollmann, eds., Religion and Culture in Early Modern Russia and Ukraine (1997) BL65.C8.R442 1997. A very stimulating collection of essays pointing to some new directions in research on the topic.

Sergei N. Bogatyrev, The Sovereign and his Counsellors : Ritualised Consultations in Muscovite Political Culture, 1350s-1570s (2000) DK62.B648 2000. Political history and "theory." There is also a pdf, downloadable version of this book should you want a copy.

Paul Bushkovitch, The Merchants of Moscow, 1580-1650. (1980) HF3630.M6.B83. Probably less worth reading than Baron's essays on merchants.

Paul Bushkovitch, Religion and Society in Russia : the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. (1992) BX489.B87 1992. Focus is on religion of the elite; interpretation is "modernizing."

Robert O. Crummey, Aristocrats and Servitors : the Boyar Elite in Russia, 1613-1689. (1983) DK114.C78.1983. The highest circle of the Muscovite elite in a period when their fortunes changed.

Robert O. Crummey and Lloyd E. Berry, eds., Rude & Barbarous kingdom; Russia in the Accounts of Sixteenth-Century English Voyagers (1968) DK19.B4. Interesting collection of primary source texts, with introduction and notes. Article by Charles Halperin in The Sixteenth-Century Journal dealing with foreign travel accounts of Muscovy will help contextualize.

Chester Dunning, Russia's First Civil War : the Time of Troubles and the Founding of the Romanov Dynasty (2001) DK111.D86.2001. Sprawling and somewhat quirky, dealing with the critical events of the late 16th century down through 1613.

George P. Fedotov, The Russian Religious Mind, Vol. 1: Kievan Christianity, the Tenth to Thirteenth Centuries (1946) BX485.F4. Very interesting material, but with questionable arguments about "kenoticism." See exchanges on this issue on Early Russia electronic discussion list.

John Fennell, The Emergence of Moscow, 1304-1359 (1968) DK90.F45. Best book-length treatment of the rise of Moscow, based especially on close reading of chronicle sources.

John Fennell, Ivan the Great of Moscow. Careful but narrow political history. Can one really write a "biography" of a Russian ruler prior to the seventeenth century? (1961) DK106.F4

Raymond H. Fisher, The Russian Fur Trade, 1550-1700 (1943) 905 CA, v. 30-31. Bound with Lantzeff on Russian administration. A second copy of Fisher is on shelves in library.

Simon Franklin, Writing, Society and Culture in Early Rus, c. 950-1300 (2003) P211.3.K54.F73 2003. Very stimulating overview of important issues pertaining to literacy and the uses of writing.

Richard Hellie, Enserfment and Military Change in Muscovy (1971) HT807.H44. Lucid treatment of an important subject, emphasizing late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Richard Hellie, Slavery in Russia, 1450-1725 (1982) HT1206.H44 1982. Massive study, employing quantitative analysis.

Lindsey Hughes, Sophia, Regent of Russia, 1657-1704 (1990) DK125.H84.1990. One of few scholarly books devoted to a Russian woman prior to 1700. Sophia was the elder half sister of Peter the Great.

Daniel Kaiser, The Growth of the Law in Medieval Russia (1980) JN6511.K35. Raises important questions about the relationship between social development and the growth of state intervention in the legal process.

Valerie A. Kivelson, Autocracy in the Provinces : the Muscovite Gentry and Political Culture in the Seventeenth Century (1996) DK114.K55 1996. One of the few studies in English on regionalism in pre-Petrine Russia.

Nancy Shields Kollmann, By Honor Bound : State and Society in Early Modern Russia (1999) KLA285.H65. K65 1999. Honor and precedence were important issues throughout the history of Rus. Focus here is the Muscovite period.

Nancy Shields Kollmann, Kinship and Politics : the Making of the Muscovite Political System, 1345-1547 (1987) DK62.K57.1987. Important study emphasizing kinship as a force in Muscovite politics.

George V. Lantzeff, Siberia in the Seventeenth Century; a Study of the Colonial Administration (1943) 905 CA, v. 30-31. Unusual for its early date in the history of American scholarship on Russia. Bound with Fisher on fur trade.

Eve Levin, Sex and Society in the World of the Orthodox Slavs, 900-1700 (1989) HQ18.E852.L48 1989. Includes material going well beyond boundaries of Rus. Very interesting insights mainly from the standpoint of those who attempted to regulate sexual mores.

Philip Longworth, Alexis, Tsar of All the Russias (1984) DK118.L66.1984. The subject is the second Romanov, the father of Peter the Great, arguably one of the first Russian rulers for whom we have enough documentation to write a real biography.

Mark Mancall, Russia and China; Their Diplomatic Relations to 1728 (1971) DK68.7.C5.M29. One of its virtues is the use of both Russian and Chinese sources. As title suggests, goes down into 18th century but to a logical stopping point.

Janet Martin, Treasure of the Land of Darkness : the Fur Trade and its Significance for Medieval Russia (1986) HD9944.S755.M37 1986. Much, in this argument, revolves around the fur trade.

John Meyendorff, Byzantium and the Rise of Russia : a Study of Byzantino-Russian Relations in the Fourteenth Century (1981) Dk67.5.B95.M49. By a prolific writer on the history of the Orthodox Church.

Georg B. Michels, At War with the Church : Religious Dissent in Seventeenth-Century Russia (1999) BX599.M53 1999. Questions traditional views about the nature of the Schism.

Bjarne Norretranders, The Shaping of Czardom under Ivan Groznyj (1971) JN6541.N63 1964a. The focus is whether or not Ivan had consistent political ideas. Should not do this book unless willing to raise question about what would happen if it turned out that Ivan had not actually written what is ascribed to him.

Adam Olearius, The Travels of Olearius in Seventeenth-Century Russia. Translated and edited by Samuel H. Baron DK22.O6133. Interesting primary source travel account; would be useful to read in conjunction with a Halperin article on interpreting 17th-century travel accounts.

Serhii Plokhy, The Cossacks and Religion in Early Modern Ukraine (2001) BR937.U4.P56 2001. Raises interesting issues about assertions of identity and their relationship to religion. The only book on this list specifically relating to Ukraine.

Marshall T. Poe, A People Born to Slavery : Russia in Early Modern European Ethnography, 1476-1748 (2000) D34.R9.P64 2000. Would be valuable to consult if reading foreign travel accounts of Russia.

Marshall T. Poe, The Russian Elite in the Seventeenth Century: A Quantitative Analysis of the "Duma Ranks" 1613-1713 In electronic form that may be downloaded using Adobe Acrobat: http://www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/~hst1505/seminars/PoeBK.pdf. This one is for you if you are interested in the possible value of and techniques of applying quantitative methods to history.

Carol Belkin Stevens, Soldiers on the Steppe : Army Reform and Social Change in Early Modern Russia (1995) DK114.S74 1995. Aspects of social history on the southern frontiers in the late 17th century.

Isolde ThyrÍt, Between God and Tsar : Religious Symbolism and the Royal Women of Muscovite Russia (2001) DK100.T48.2001. A rare look at women's spirituality in Russia.