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This is an interpretative history of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union between 1850 and 1991. During this tumultuous period, the countries of this vast area were transformed from traditional, agrarian societies into modern industrial states. Like China, the Soviet Union underwent this transition under the banner of communism. After introductory chapters on traditional Russian history and lifeways, David Christian discusses how these transformations affected both governments and ordinary citizens, what they gained, what they endured, and why the Communist experiment ultimately failed.