Serious activists bent on political and economic change, and opportunistic scoundrels and adventurers interested in their own selfish ends, help Julicher (Russian studies, Cranbrook Kingswood School, Michigan) explore one reason he says civil society did not begin to take root in Russia until the end of the 20th century. He goes beyond their personal idiosyncrasies to explore the causes that provoked them and the consequences they engendered. Annotation (c) Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In the Russia of the tsars, people who criticized or questioned the autocratic prerogatives of the sovereign were brutally suppressed and sometimes actively persecuted. So imbedded was this official hostility to anyone hoping to change or even influence government policy, that even the most high-minded reformers came to understand that the only way they could succeed was to overthrow the regime. The author describes the activities of the most important dissidents and agitators from the reign of Ivan the Terrible to Nicholas II and the Communist Revolution in 1917. Many of these fascinating individuals were serious activists endeavoring to improve society; others were opportunistic scoundrels and adventurers. The author explores the causes that provoked them and the consequences they faced, and explains how time and time again the tsars were goaded into mistakes and over-reaction.