The History Of Siberia; & Road To Power
Two new publications examining the history of Siberia
- The History Of Siberia: From Russian Conquest To Revolution
Edited by Alan Wood – Routledge, 1991 - xiv+192 pp. - £35
- Road To Power: The Trans-Siberian Railroad And The Colonization Of Asian Russia, 1850-1917
Stephen Marks - I.B. Tauris, 1991 - xxi+240 pp. - £19.95
Alan Wood calls his collection of papers a 'modest hors d'oeuvre', to more substantial publications which are to follow. £35 is quite a lot for an hors d'oeuvre, but fortunately there are some substantial items here as well, which show how the paradox of Siberia, is central to an understanding of the Russian empire, in both its Tsarist and Soviet variants. Of itself the possession of this vast territory, straddling the earth's largest continent, made Russia a world power from the mid-seventeenth century onwards (only slightly later, in the early eighteenth century, did she become a great European power). Yet, as Basil Dmytryshyn shows, its acquisition was largely unplanned and fortuitous, a. mixture of private commercial enterprise, the initiative of local military commanders, adventurism and the urge to find 'natural' frontiers. Probably the Tatars had a better conceived master plan when they invaded in the opposite direction four centuries earlier.