In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

468 Рецензии/Reviews nica, Americana etc.12 To be sure, one may detect in the volume under review, perhaps most noticeably among the Ottomanist contributors, an occasional whiff of nostalgia, such as one finds in many other publications on empire. However, if one can speak at all about rehabilitation of empire in this volume, it is rather in the spirit of William McNeill, where empires appear as one historical form of political organization among others and one that has served humanity longer, sometimes better sometimes worse, than its rivals or successors.13 Scholars may be implicitly rehabilitating the notion of empire in historiographic terms through the proliferation of studies they devote to this subject. However, empire has not been politically rehabilitated. In political and popular discourse there are republics of virtue and a heavenly kingdom but there is only an evil empire.14 In a quirk of postmodernist irony, the only entity left today that still calls itself an empire is Japan, a state that in its postwar ethos is almost the antithesis of what empires are supposed to be. Empires that allow themselves to be called such are therefore now a thing of the past. Imperial rule, however, remains and this fine book gives us an inkling of its myriad possibilities. 12 Niall Ferguson. Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power. New York, 2002. For example, P. xxvii: “The British Empire was the nearest thing there has ever been to a world government. Yet its mode of operation was a triumph of minimalism.” 13 McNeill makes this point implicitly in numerous seminal studies, and explicitly in his Polyethnicity and National Unity in World History: The Donald G. Creighton Lectures 1985, Toronto, 1986. 14 The success of Ronald Reagan’s hit phrase “evil empire” draws on what one contributor to Ab Imperio journal describes as “the most widespread contemporary meaning” of empire, that is, “an illegitimate form of domination over a state or collectivity of people.” See: Mark Beissinger. Situating Empire // Ab Imperio. 2005. No. 3. P. 89. Paul du QUENOY John P. LeDonne, The Grand Strategy of the Russian Empire, 1650–1831 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004). 261 pp., ill. Bibliography, Index. ISBN: 0-19-516100-9. When Harry Truman congratulated Stalin on the capture of Berlin in 1945, the Soviet leader responded that Alexander I had reached Paris. Reading John P. LeDonne’s most recent book leads one to believe 469 Ab Imperio, 3/2006 that Stalin’s strategic thinking might have been formed in pre-Petrine Muscovy and continued more or less intact at least until the suppression of the Polish rebellion of 1830 – 1831. Subsequent volumes may make that connection more explicit, but on the last page of his text LeDonne tells us that “the history of the Soviet Union would mirror that of the empire: an ideology of conquest, the restoration of Russia’s hegemony in the Heartland; a new Fortress Empire…; the creation of client states…; and finally , collapse from within” (P. 233). This list delineates the focal points of LeDonne’s argument about the imperial entity. Once Russia stabilized after the turbulent early half of the seventeenth century, it embarked on a deliberate, calculated grand strategy to dominate Eurasia, a plan governed by military, commercial , religious, and ideological imperatives. A repressive domestic political and social system dominated by military needs helped it maintain order and mobilize resources within a vast “fortress.” Its armies launched “deep penetrations” into enemy territory to defeat adversaries in a way that allowed Russia to dictate peace on its own terms. The adoption of a “client system” in the borderlands enabled it to employ an “economy of force” in achieving its strategic ambitions. By the reign of Nicholas I, this realm – in LeDonne’s opinion unique and distinctly nonEuropean – bestrode Eurasia as a “Fortress Empire,” which despite its subsequent decline intimidated and dominated its neighbors. LeDonne, whose earlier volume on Imperial Russia’s foreign policy relied on Halford Mackinder’s theory that geography determines strategy on a grand scale,1 attempts here to formulize Russia’s conduct over nearly two centuries. Regarding “facts by themselves” as “dead matter...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 468-471
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.