A Short History of Russia: From the Pagans to Putin by Mark Galeotti

A Short History of Russia: From the Pagans to Putin by Mark Galeotti


Can anyone truly understand Russia? Let one of the world’s leading experts show you how, using the fascinating history of a nation to illuminate its future.

Russia is a country with no natural borders, no single ethnos, no true central identity. At the crossroads of Europe and Asia, it is everyone’s ‘other’. And yet it is one of the most powerful nations on earth, a master game-player on the global stage with a rich history of war and peace, poets and revolutionaries.

In this essential whistle-stop tour of the world’s most misunderstood nation, Mark Galeotti takes us behind the myths to the heart of the Russian story: from the formation of a nation to its early legends – including Ivan the Terrible and Catherine the Great – to the rise and fall of the Romanovs, the Russian Revolution, the Cold War, Chernobyl and the end of the Soviet Union – plus the arrival of an obscure politician named Vladimir Putin.

My Review:

When we think of Russia, we think of the Russian Revolution and more recently the Cold War. The world’s largest country has quite a history and how Mark Galeotti manages to keep it to under 210 pages is a real feat, but in A Short History of Russia: From the Pagans to Putin (Ebury Press) he manages this really well.

This is not a book the delves deeply into Russian history there are many books already out in bookshops that cover this but what Mark Galeotti brings us is a concise history of the rulers and from tsars to Communist Party leaders, of course there are the wars, and they are covered here. It is impossible to cover just about every aspect of Russian history. What I did like was the various timelines at the beginning of each of the eight chapters and there are photographs along the way and there are suggestions for further reading if you want to explore the various subjects.

But most of all I really enjoyed Mark Galeotti’s writing style, I found it easy to follow and really engaging. As you reach the climax of the book we get to the end of the USSR and then on to the rise of Putin. Which you could well write a whole book on.

All in all, this for anyone who has an interest in history and even politics I would happily recommend.

208 Pages.

On Friday the 8th October, we welcome back the Cheltenham Literature Festival and in-person book events.

Mark Galeotti will be attending the festival as part of the Understanding Russia event with details below:

Monday 11th October 2021. 10:30am for tickets to the event Understanding Russia:


The 2021 Cheltenham Literature Festival returns to live in person events this year. For further information on all events taking place over the next two weeks:



My thanks to Sofia Sagir (Midas PR) for the review copy of A Short History of Russia by Mark Galeotti.

A Short History of Russia by Mark Galeotti is published by Ebury Press and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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