This book explores the role of empire in world history. What does it mean to be an empire? How does one differ from another? Why does an empire rise and why fall? Why have empires flourished in some eras and regions of the world but not in others? On an unusually wide canvas, Dominic Lieven addresses all these questions. His central focus is on the rise and fall of empire in Russia and the Soviet Union. The dynamics of empire's history in Russia are explored through comparisons not only between the tsarist and Soviet periods but also between Russia, its great contemporaries and rivals of the Ottoman, Habsburg and British empires, and a broad range of other cases from ancient China to Rome to the present-day United States, Indonesia, India and the European Union. Lieven shows that many of empire's dilemmas still have their force in today's world. His perspective throws light on the current crisis in the former USSR by comparing post-Soviet problems and dangers with the upheavals caused by the collapse of other leading powers' empires.
A fresh view of many of today's most intractable issues is also provided, from the troubles in Ulster to ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and the fate of Russian, British, German and Asian diasporas stranded by the collapse of empire.
Dominic Lieven graduated first in his year, 1973, at the University of Cambridge. He was a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard and, on completing his PhD, became a lecturer in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics, where he is now Professor of Russian Government. He has also been a visiting professor at Tokyo and Harvard universities, as well as a Humboldt Fellow in G-ttingen and Munich. He has published widely, mostly on late imperial Russia, and his ancestors connect him to a surprising range of empires - among them, his great-uncle, Prince Anatol Lieven, son of Alexander II's Lord Chamberlain.