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Review of book on Russian history

Kagarlitsky, Boris. Empire of the Periphery: Russia and the World System. Translated from the Russian by Renfrey Clarke. Pluto Press, 2008. 364 pp. Notes. Index. ISBN 978 0 7453 2682 5.

Boris Kagarlitsky, currently director of the Institute of Globalisation and Social Movements, is a prominent theorist of Russia’s democratic left. Several of his books have appeared in English. In this very substantial work he surveys the history of Russia from the ninth to the twenty-first century. It is not primarily a factual account; the reader is assumed already to possess a basic knowledge of Russian history (so it would not be suitable as an introductory text). The aim is, rather, to interpret and explain key developments in terms of underlying economic factors, with special emphasis on trade and economic relations between Russia and other countries. The author draws on a wide range of primary and secondary sources, from medieval chronicles to Soviet state archives, as well as on archeological evidence.

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