Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism: A History of 20th-Century Russia

Course No. 827
Professor Gary Hamburg, Ph.D.
Claremont McKenna College
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47 Reviews
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Course No. 827
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Course Overview

From the Oval Office to the streets of Moscow, world leaders and ordinary citizens alike share concerns about Russia. Can democracy survive there? What does the future hold for the once expansive, still powerful, Russian nation? Is Soviet Communism truly dead? Top diplomats struggle daily with questions like these. With this course, you can begin investigating them for yourself.

Professor Gary Hamburg of the University of Notre Dame leads you on a probing historical journey that sheds light on the recent history and near future of a key world power.

Gain New Insights, No Matter What Your Chief Interest May Be

Whether your chief interest is Russian or world history, political theory, or international relations, you take away a wealth of knowledge and insight from these scholarly and comprehensive lectures as Professor Hamburg examines:

  • The improbable origins of Communist rule in Russia
  • The ascent of the Red Star to its zenith
  • Its decline and apparent end in the wake of 1989's epoch-making events.

Beginning with the failures of the czarist regime and the horrors of the First World War, then moving through the bloody era of Josef Stalin's purges and beyond to Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika, Professor Hamburg familiarizes you with the story of 20th-century Russia.

Peek into Newly Opened Archives

Using new material from previously sealed Soviet archives and covering recent controversial findings by both Russian and Western scholars, Professor Hamburg offers you an analysis of the Soviet experiment.

His method is to draw a sharp focus on the major turning point of each of Soviet history's three key periods:

The first period centers on the breakdown of the czarist regime, the events culminating in the Menshevik and Bolshevik revolutions of 1917, the outbreak of Russian civil war, the triumph of the Bolsheviks, and the birth of the Communist party-state system.

Czarist Russia's disastrous involvement in World War I sets the stage for the fall of the czar and the rise of Lenin, who masterminded the Bolshevik coup that has gone down in history as the October Revolution.

Along with Lenin's role in the suppression of "bourgeois" democracy and the creation of the Soviet state, Professor Hamburg explores his decisive theoretical influence on the form that Marxism took in Russia.

You learn that Marx himself would not have thought Russia—a largely agrarian society at the time—"ripe" for revolution.

The second period begins with Lenin's announcement of the New Economic Policy and continues with the debates, power struggles, and eventual consolidation of his power in the late 1920s, the social terror of agricultural collectivization and the political terror of the party purges in the 1930s, the bloody horrors of World War II and its aftermath, and the death of Stalin in 1953.

In teaching this second period, Professor Hamburg devotes extensive time to an explanation and analysis of Stalinism. You examine the cruel dictatorship of Stalin, who used forced starvation, murderous purges by secret police, and brutal labor camps—the infamous "gulag archipelago"—to consolidate his grip on power.

Next you examine the Nazi invasion and the "Great Patriotic War" of 1941–45, which nearly toppled Stalin and killed millions of Soviet soldiers and civilians.

If you've ever wondered about the parallels between Stalin and Adolf Hitler, you will find much food for thought in Professor Hamburg's careful comparison of the two.

The third and most recent period begins with Khrushchev's first efforts at de-Stalinization, continues with the Brezhnev reaction, and reaches its climax with Gorbachev's startling initiatives of perestroika and glasnost in the late 1980s. This leads to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the ascendancy of Boris Yeltsin, and the current era of post-Soviet disarray.

You learn how Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, and Gorbachev all tried to curb the abuses of power and tendency toward the "cult of personality" associated with Stalinism. Yet they tried to do so while preserving the power structure Stalin had created, along with the principles of Communism itself.

Professor Hamburg turns his lens on the policies of perestroika and glasnost to convey most fully the impact of these final years of the Soviet regime.

Two Major Schools of Thought

On the theoretical side, Professor Hamburg also considers the two ways to interpret 20th-century Russian history:

  • The mainstream view, which generally holds that the only real discontinuities in 20th-century Russian history are the Bolshevik Revolution and the collapse of the USSR. In this view, the entire Soviet period is essentially undifferentiated from Lenin to Stalin to Gorbachev.
  • The revisionist view, which sees major continuities in Russia's history prior to the Bolshevik Revolution and following Gorbachev, but major discontinuities within the Soviet period.

Although his own views tend toward the mainstream, Professor Hamburg is careful to give due account to the revisionists' arguments.

"Neither interpretation has gained full acceptance for the simple reason that we are still too close in time to most of these events.

"Moreover, we must all appreciate from the outset the duration, complexity, and uniqueness of recorded Russian history, of which the 20th century is but a very small part."

Intrigue, Befuddlement, and Fright

"Russia, in its vastness and diversity, has always intrigued, befuddled, and frightened 'the West.' You shouldn't be surprised that there are no easy answers to the questions raised in these lectures."

In his closing lecture, Professor Hamburg discusses Communism's prospects in Russia and assesses the possibility that the Soviet Union will re-emerge in some form.

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16 lectures
 |  Average 46 minutes each
  • 1
    Nicholas II and the Russian Empire
    This opening lecture includes discussion of the problems facing Russian peasants and workers in the early 1900s. The Bolshevik seizure of power could have succeeded only in a country with a discredited government, ethnic resentments, and social antagonisms. x
  • 2
    The Failure of Constitutional Government
    Russia's failed constitutional experiment raises the fundamental question of whether such a government can ever succeed in a large, multinational empire. x
  • 3
    Russia and the First World War
    This lecture discusses Russia's entrance into the Great War, the military-political crisis of 1915, failure of the Brusilov offensive in 1916, and isolation of the tsar. The lecture also sketches the atmosphere in the imperial capital, Petrograd, just before Nicholas II was overthrown. x
  • 4
    Lenin and the Origins of Bolshevism
    An overview of Lenin's life and revolutionary strategies provides context for a detailed discussion of his contributions to Marxism and the "three roads" to Communism imagined by Russian Marxists. x
  • 5
    Lenin Comes to Power
    This lecture describes the two revolutions of 1917, the installation of a provisional government, and Lenin's successful efforts to undermine it. x
  • 6
    Lenin and the Making of a Bolshevik State
    The lecture focuses on significant Bolshevik policies between 1917 and 1921: imposition of partocracy, suppression of "bourgeois democracy," attempts to destroy the market system, and resolution of the nationalities problem. x
  • 7
    The Twenties
    The emergence of Stalin and his eventual victory in power struggles of the 1920s bring an end to Lenin's New Economic Policy and the start of ill-fated attempts to collective agriculture. x
  • 8
    Stalin and the "Second October Revolution"
    The first Five-Year Plan and the chaos it wrought in the industrial sector serve as the focus of this fast-paced lecture. Stalin's imposition of an artificial famine that cost millions of lives is also discussed. x
  • 9
    Stalin and the "Great Terror"
    Party purges and "show trials" from 1934 to 1938 are examined as key evidence of state terror during the Stalinist period. x
  • 10
    Stalin, Hitler, and the Road to War
    This lecture treats the diplomatic origins of World War II including Stalin's controversial German policy, Hitler's attitude toward the East and toward Bolshevism, and the 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact. x
  • 11
    The USSR at War
    The war against Germany was a decisive test of Stalin's statesmanship—and he nearly failed. x
  • 12
    Stalin's Last Years
    This lecture analyzes the Soviet Union's painful reconstruction after World War II and behind-the-scenes political maneuvering occasioned by Stalin's death. x
  • 13
    In the three decades after Stalin's death, Communist party leadership hesitantly distances itself from elements of the Stalinist system without ever abandoning the entire edifice that he had built. x
  • 14
    Gorbachev and Perestroika
    This lecture concentrates on the limits and internal contradictions of Gorbachev's plans for perestroika. It also discusses the appearance of party opposition to perestroika and how that opposition was overcome. x
  • 15
    The Disintegration of the USSR
    Re-emerging national independence movements in major Soviet republics, previously hidden social antagonisms, and gradual exposure of the truth about Stalinism doom Gorbachev's plans to failure. x
  • 16
    Rebirth of Russia or the Rebirth of the USSR?
    Russia's prospects remain uncertain for prosperity, democracy, and the rule of law. But reasons for cautious optimism spur additional thought and analysis. x

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Your professor

Gary Hamburg

About Your Professor

Gary Hamburg, Ph.D.
Claremont McKenna College
Dr. Gary Hamburg is Otto M. Behr Professor of European History at Claremont McKenna College. He earned his A.B., A.M., and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University. Dr. Hamburg received Fulbright grants for advanced research at Leningrad State University (now St. Petersburg University) and at Moscow University. He is the author of Politics of the Russian Nobility 1881-1905 and Boris Chicherin and Early Russian Liberalism,...
Learn More About This Professor


Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism: A History of 20th-Century Russia is rated 4.2 out of 5 by 47.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Comprehensive survey of the Soviet system I found listening to “History of Russia: From Peter the Great to Gorbachev” prior to this course valuable. This course presents a comprehensive survey of the Soviet system which has given me tools to better understand Russian thinking both in my interactions with the country as well as when following current events. As the Professor mentions a few times in the course, “truth sometimes really is stranger than fiction”. I listened to the audio version and enjoyed the Professor’s style which was clear and easily understandable. Similar to Professor Steinberg, one can feel the deep affection to the subject matter. However it did feel like many of the horrors were minimized (though granted any course is too short to encompass the immensity of the horrors produced by the Soviet system)
Date published: 2016-11-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Rigorously toes the party line We all know the standard US theory of Soviet Communism --- worst thing in history, created by monsters, doomed to fail, blah blah. When I started this course I hoped for substantially more than that, for genuine insight into how the system could persist for so long and achieve so much (eg industrialization of Russia, defeat of the Nazis, H-bombs and satellites) if it were so hated and so incompetent. Sadly this course adds no such insight; all we get is the standard US ideology regurgitated. To give one example, we are told all about the evils and failures of collective farming (which, obviously did happen) but we are not given any sort of useful explanation as to why this occurred, and how it might be placed in the context of industrialization as a whole (including the industrialization of agriculture). If you want your prejudices stoked and refueled, this is a fine course. But if you want actual UNDERSTANDING, you're far better off reading something like On Stalin's Team by Sheila Fitzpatrick, or Red Plenty by Francis Spufford.
Date published: 2016-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehesive survey of Soviet Political history Obviously, Russia has played a huge role in the 20th century political arena, with Russia emerging as one of two superpowers after WWII, for the first time in its history playing such a central role. Other than this course there is no other course within the TGC that focuses exclusively on this important and really quite fascinating historical phenomenon. “History of Russia…”, given by Professor Steinberg does allocate approximately one third of the lectures to this subject, and I found the lectures to be well structured and interesting. The central topic of the course, however, is earlier Russian history, with more emphasis on social aspects. This course is dedicated strictly to political Soviet history. The course plots in the first four lectures the state of Russia on the eve of the Soviet takeover, in which it is ruled by a despotic, Tzarist regime, and has an economy overwhelmingly agricultural and backward in relation to Europe in many ways. It was still a significant territorial empire however, though it had suffered a few rather embarrassing military defeats in the decades before. From that point on, Professor Hamburg provides an interesting and comprehensive account of how it came about that the Marxist socialist theory found its first and most important manifestation in Russia (the place it was almost least expected to take roots), and how it ruled once it did gain power. Professor Hamburg stresses that although the inspiration for the Bolshevik revolution was Marxist in its origins, it quite quickly developed into something well outside of what Marx had described. In fact, Marx was in many focused pragmatically on how to get the Proletarian masses to “unite and lose their chains”, and gave much less thought to how they would govern once they did gain control. Lectures five and six are focused on the Soviet uprising, and Lenin’s eventual total rule of power. The heart of the course (lectures eight to twelve) is given over to describing Stalinist Russia, the phase in which the Totalitarian regime reaches its most monstrous and tragic proportions, with the rest of the lectures describing Soviet WWII, the break of the Cold War, and the gradual but steady waning of the Soviet totalitarian power until break of the Soviet Union during the Yeltzin presidency. The narrative account of the development of unique, universally horrifying modes of rule that developed in Soviet Russia are really the heart, and I found them to be particularly well structured and interesting. I enjoyed Professor Hamburg’s sober lecturing style and found the lectures easily understandable and quite comprehensive. My one criticism of the presentation has to so with the professor’s obvious revulsion in describing some of the more horrific aspects of the Soviet Totalitarian government. Obviously, the material inevitably creates strong emotions, but I felt that the Professor’s strong explicit bias was well beyond serving the purpose. Other than that , I enjoyed the course and the Professor’s presentation very much.
Date published: 2016-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tremendous insight into communism's rise and fall This is perhaps the best Teaching Company course I've listened to out of 30 or so. The professor imparts his personal passion for the subject and I liked that he was generous in citing books and authors for additional info. His humor really comes out after a few lectures. The most important things I learned were that the majority of the Russian population was heavily predisposed to a socialist/commune like philosophy based on the village structure long before there was communism (predating Marx), and that the soviets could never break away from the ingrained czarist era bureaucratic slothful attitudes, which ended up even frustrating Stalin. Another plus: these lectures are 45 minutes. A minus: they stop at Yeltsin.
Date published: 2016-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An eye-opening course. A fascinating and well-organized course by a professor who knows his stuff. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2016-08-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Stuff.... But How About a Bit More An excellent cours, but in need of an update to include the post-Yeltsin years (alas, those of Putin) in order to bring students up to date.
Date published: 2016-07-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable Course It took about 4-5 lectures for the professor and I to get in sync, but once that happened I ended up learning a lot and really enjoying the course. The professor has a very dry wit that is delightful and I loved hearing the production crew laugh at his comments. Note that this course was produced in 1996. It would be awesome to have a follow up since a lot has happened in Russia in the following 20 years. I would love the hear the professors thoughts on Putin.
Date published: 2016-07-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good review of 20th century Russia This is one is a very good review of what transpired in 20th century Russia. Some other reviewers point out omissions, like no mention of the Cuban missile crisis. There are other omissions as well, but the professor has limited time. Some reviewers complain that the material did not teach anything new. If you are very knowledgeable about this period, you can certainly omit this course. I knew most of the facts, but I have learned some new ones. I also enjoyed being reminded of things I knew but that I had forgotten. I liked the delivery (I can only listen when I am in my car driving to and from work), Prof. Hamburg knows his subject very well and I recommend this course.
Date published: 2016-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from an excellent course that needs to be extended to Putin
Date published: 2016-01-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It's ok It has interesting parts, but it's not as good as "History of Russia: From Peter the Great to Gorbachev". The professor's tone of voice is a bit funny.
Date published: 2016-01-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Pedantic, Unfocused, and Incomplete In the introduction to this lecture series, Professor Gary Hamburg sets forth the goal of focusing on major "turning points" in the dramatic story of the rise and fall of Soviet Communism in the twentieth century. Unfortunately, the lectures get bogged down in the speaker's tangents and sidebars. As a result, the turning points are lost in the rambling narrative of the three major periods of modern Russia. In the first period, which entails the collapse of the czarist regime and the ascension of Bolshevism, the obvious turning point is the arrival of Vladimir Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov) in Petrograd on April 16, 1917, after a decade of exile. In one of the great ironies of history, the Germans had authorized the transportation of Lenin back to Russia in a sealed railway car for the purpose of fomenting insurrection and destabilizing Russia during World War I. But it was never anticipated that Lenin would become the leader of a new political system in a nation state and that communist rule would last for nearly seventy-five years. The seminal moment of Lenin's return to Russia is lost in the lecturer's ponderous discourse on provisional governments and ideology. The second period spans the rise to power of Joseph Stalin and the horrors of World War II. Professor Hamburg mentions only in passing the battle of Stalingrad, which is arguably the turning point of the European theater of World War II. He also does not acknowledge the staggering loss of life among the Russian people through protracted civil war, the Stalinist purges, and World War II. In his American University address of June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy underscored the great sacrifices of the Russian people during this critical period in world history. This reality is lost in Professor Hamburg's recounting of the widespread use of tanks, artillery engagements, and other details of Stalin's monomaniacal rule. The third period of the Cold War is the most disappointing portion of the course. Out of the blue, the professor suggests that the origins of the Cold War were apparent in the conflicting ideologies of Stalin and American President Woodrow Wilson. A more convincing pair of world leaders would have been Stalin and Winston Churchill, who was adamantly opposed to Bolshevism from the outset and later coined the expression "Iron Curtain." Incredibly, the lecturer glosses over the turning point of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. It was the nuclear arms race that was the heart of the Cold War conflict as much as rival political ideologies, and the race began in the moments following Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The professor is so intent on discussing "De-Stalinization" that there is no mention of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, which is arguably the high water mark of the tensions of the Cold War. He also spends excessive time in the minutiae of the ouster of Nikita Khrushchev as prime minister and Party First Secretary, to the degree that we never learn that the main cause for Khrushchev's fall from grace was his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was never made clear that Khrushchev was reaching for a vision of world peace, anticipating that of Gorbachev in the 1980s. And it seemed beyond the professor's grasp to acknowledge the missed opportunity that occurred with the death of President Kennedy and the removal of Khrushchev--two turning points that senselessly protracted the Cold War. In the 1980s, the efforts of Gorbachev to limit nuclear arms were stalled even longer, due to Reagan's unwillingness to negotiate. The professor even fails to mention Reagan's fantastic Star Wars plan, which sought to intensify the arms race even as the Soviet Union was collapsing from within. It was disappointing that these lectures were so pedantic and so unfocused that the stated goals of examining the historical turning points were never achieved. As a survey, the sixteen presentations provide some of the details of the important story of the rise and fall of communism. But the overall effect of the presentations is uneven and not even very informative. Course Grade: D
Date published: 2015-06-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from clear & thoughtful presentation It starts slow in first lecture because the prof has a dry wit, not immediately apparent, and a low key speaking style. I came to value his lecture style very highly as we progressed into the course. Each lecture is crisp, concise and well organized. I am not new to Soviet history and appreciate how difficult it must be to summarize this long and complicated regime. He suceeded entirely in presenting a straightforward but nuanced account. In terms of the latter, his description of Stalin's final hours is unforgettable.
Date published: 2014-11-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good content The material in the course was good and very well researched. The professor does not have an engrossing delivery style but that shouldn't be held against him. Sometimes I felt things almost got bogged down in minutia. I have bought 40 courses from The Teaching Company and they have all been worthwhile, including this one. If someone is interested in the subject of Soviet or Russian history, this would be a good course to get. However, it is not one that I would listen to a second time as I have with some of the courses by other professors. I would rate this lecture series fair. I give the professor high marks for knowing his subject very well. His scholarship is impressive.
Date published: 2014-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very thorough overview This course tells the story very clearly, and gives a good road-map through the sometimes hellishly convoluted politics of the subject. He avoids any cheap moralising or tub-thumping, and by the end of the course we have the story and "lessons learned" firmly in place. Strongly recommended. I would recommend to a friend, and I would recommend that the friend who has borrowed my course and not yet returned it does so immediately.
Date published: 2014-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Thorough Political History An in depth look at Russian/ Soviet Politics in the 20th century. I enjoyed this course much more than "A History of Russia: From Peter the Great to Gorbachev"; which was more of a social history than a political one. This course gave me the deeper understanding of the political background and history of the Soviet Union that the other course was lacking. The content covered was expansive and insightful. The presentation was factual with the occasional antidote or personal experience.
Date published: 2013-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very intelligent, thoughtful and compassionate analysis of "stranger than fiction" reality of Russia in the 20th century. Dr. Hamburg realistically evaluates the limitations of available data sources. Great course. Would be also great to hear Dr. Hamburg's analysis expanded to the 21 century Russian politics.
Date published: 2013-10-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Course, Somewhat Dry This was a good overview of Soviet Communism, pretty dry. I love history but had to focus to pay attention. Maybe the material just didn't hold my interest, the presentation was good, material was comprehensive, and when I was listening intently, enjoyed it. It was a fairly in-depth discussion. Unfortunately, I've found that most of the course just didn't "stick" and by a month later I really couldn't recall much of the material. On the other hand, I've returned courses I really didn't like but have this on my shelf and plan to listen to it again.
Date published: 2011-12-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Seeing the Other Side Audio CD. Although it is a relatively short course (16 lectures), Dr. Hamburg provides insight in an interesting presentation. For those of us who remember the Cold War, this course transcends the polemics of the era and instead provides an objective view of the Soviet perspective.
Date published: 2011-10-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Save Your Money I was unimpressed with both the content and presentation. Professor Hamburg picks and chooses among the vast history of Communist USSR in an odd manner - focusing on trivial personal stories will skipping major topics. He mentions nothing of the Cuban Missile Crises and provides little insight into the nuclear arms race or Cold War. I know from living overseas that as Americans we have a one-sided view of this conflict. It would have been fascinating to understand it from the Soviet view. The lecture style is initially annoying but grows to "fingernails on the blackboard" grating by the end. I was challenged to final few lectures. He has a ponderous, pompous style of speaking.
Date published: 2011-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A sense of tragedy This is an excellent course for people, such as myself, who are not familiar with the details of the history of Soviet Communism. There are many reviews, so I will only speak to one point here. The professor's laconic and sometimes ironic style has been, in my opinion, misunderstood by some of the reviewers. It does not express boredom or indifference. I think it reflects a very deep sense of the extreme tragedy of modern Russian history, tragedy in both senses of the word: of terrible events as such; and in particular of terrible events arising under circumstances so powerfully bad that it would have been very difficult even for much better historical actors to have recovered a much better result.
Date published: 2010-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from accurate view I grew up in a communist country; professor Hamburg got it just right. He might have underestimated the eveil of the communists, especially blood thirsty criminal Salin and his comando: NKVD. The hipocracy and bigotry of the system was unspeakable. One has to emphasize it especially to the American public which is so naive in their populace belive that this monster was represnting the masses: he was another czar, he exterminated 15-30 million people, he was an absolute monarch and paranoid one indeed! I liked Hamburg presentation skills, clear, well punctuated and dramatic. I heard him even against roaring the Bahamas Atlanic side Ocean. I enjoyed his correct Russion prounanciation of the names (it is a huge complement). I liked this cours immensely!
Date published: 2010-08-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Unprofessional with no enthusiasm This lecture series provided me with no new insight into the Russian Revolution. The professor almost seemd disdainful of the whole Revolution--even gaffawing a number of times. At no time did you get a sense that this was a *popular* movement with very strong and charasmatic leaders. He mostly concentrated on the faults and eventual brutality of the leadership, without any insight into the wills of the common people. Lots of time was spent discussing the brutality of Stalin, with examining the cult of Stalin. There were also many factual errors, as noted in previous reviews. The 1905 revolution was barely mentioned. How can you talk about the 1917 revolution without analyzing the 1905 uprisings? Trotsky originated the concept of "Permanent Revolution", not Lenin. Overall a boring, unenlightened lecture.
Date published: 2010-04-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I Enjoyed the Course but Found an Error As a new customer to the Teaching Co., I would like to say that I found this course enjoyable to listen to. The professor's easy-going disposition and flippant sense of humor towards communist hypocrisy made these lectures not only informative but also engaging. My biggest problem is that I found, what seems like, an error (I know that I'm a novice student of the history of Communist Russia but I researched this in 3 different places and they all disagree with Professor Hamburg): Lecture 12: Stalin's Last Years at approx. 40:28 into the lecture the professor claims that Edvard Benes was defenestrated during the communist take-over of Czechoslovakia. This is incorrect as it was Jan Masaryk that was thrown out of a window on that fateful day in March, 1948. I understand that the comprehensiveness of the course can lead to sporadic misinformation slipping through the cracks but I think it's important to point out the errors. Thank you.
Date published: 2009-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from compelling This course has a lot going for it. The professor is clearly an expert, and is able to bring to bear illuminating specifics (such as how Russians in the street joke about politics) and generalities (such as the effects of Stalinism on political culture). Moreover, the course gives the listener/viewer a real sense of the sweep of Soviet Communism, so that it really delivers on the promise of the title. As always, I appreciate the inclusion of original language information, along with explanations. If I were to lodge a complaint, it would be that prof. Hamburg is a bit too facile in his treatment of Lysenko.
Date published: 2009-06-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from disappointing i am a japanese woman who is a big fan of teaching company's. i bought no less than 20 courses from the company. of course, i sometimes ran across not-so- good materials. yet, i doubt it is the lecturers' fault. after all, it is our responsibitity to sudy well in order to appreciate the lectures. nevertheless, i can't help declaring this course is a quite disappointing one. its content is a chain talk of well-known events with which we are familiar already. when i see interpretations of his, they are often some guess works depending on books or something similar. the worst part is his and engineer's laughing and scoffing at soviet events. i can't imagine a historian laughing at other nation's history however ridiculous it may seem to him or her. i admit soviet experiment was a big failure, but at the same time i firmly believe it is our, or students' duty to learn something from their betrayed revolution.
Date published: 2009-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding The great insights of the professor added to the quality of information he presented made this course of excellent quality. His knowledge showed through greatly in the lectures. My understanding of communism grew a great deal. Especially instructive also was his attention to the differences of Marxism and Leninism. His summary could have been recorded yesterday. It was wonderfully prescient considering events which have transpired in Russia very recently, demonstrating the professor's comprehension of communism's operation and goals.
Date published: 2009-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best of all TeachCo Russia courses Perhaps the best course of the three TeachCo Russia courses I have is Dr. Gary Hamburg’s Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism: A History of 20th Century Russia. Though Dr. Hamburg’s ambling pace and folksy cadence may lull you into thinking this is an episode of Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion to Russia”, his treatment of 20th Russia and the Soviet Union takes the familiar what, when & why of the October Revolution, Stalin’s Terror, and more, and adds an almost first-person sense of how these events happened. He takes us inside the fateful July 30, 1914 meeting between the head of the Russian General Staff, Yanushkevich and Nicholas II’s Foreign Minister Sazonov, at which Yanushkevich persuaded Sazonov (a member of the pro-peace faction in the Duma at the time) that German mobilization was so far along that delaying full mobilization any longer would force Russia to fight “with its sword not taken out of its scabbard”. We go inside the closed-door meeting of the leadership of the Bolshevik party in October, 1917 as Russia’s fate hinged on a 10-2 vote on whether to immediately attempt a violent seizure of power - as Lenin urged - or whether to wait two weeks until the next session of the Duma to solicit broader support - as the two dissenters argued. Dr. Hamburg circles back to this meeting several lectures later, to show how, once Stalin was in power, he made scapegoats of the two dissenters, Zinoviev and Kamenev, after the December 1, 1934 murder of his chief rival for power, Leningrad party Secretary Sergei Kirov, although the assassination was almost certainly Stalin’s own work. The Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism is the only course of the three that gives any particular attention to Estonia and the other Baltic states forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, first with an account of Stalin’s policy of “absorption by stages” following the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and Germany’s invasion of Poland, and then with the question of why some people under Soviet rule - Estonians, Ukrainians, Latvians, and others - would actually have welcomed the Germany army at first as liberators in the summer of 1941. Overall, a superb overview of the 74 year nightmare that was the Soviet Union.
Date published: 2009-01-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Can't get enough of these Great Courses.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What would I do when I retired? Go to my health club and workout mentally & physically.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from These are wonderful courses with which I can go anywhere - on an airplane, jogging, in the car on a long trip, or just relaxing - and I learn too!
Date published: 2008-10-17
  • y_2020, m_5, d_29, h_14
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.8
  • cp_2, bvpage2n
  • co_hasreviews, tv_2, tr_45
  • loc_en_US, sid_827, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.0
  • CLOUD, getContent, 127.03ms

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