At the heart of [this] book is the relationship between the Russian State and Russian society at large. As before, the structure is chronological, starting with the earliest Russian state based on Kiev, and tracing the rise and fall of both Tsarist and Soviet Russia in turn. It ends with the Russian Federation of today, and its many troubles. But though the analysis is based on firm narrative underpinnings, the treatment is not evenly spread across the thousand years covered here: it becomes richer and more detailed as it approaches modern times. It concentrates on five key themes that are central to an understanding of Russian society at the end of the twentieth century: how the writ of the Tsar, and then the Communist Party, came to run over a territory covering one sixth of the world's surface; the complex way Russia's international setting has interacted with her socio-political development; why it should have been Russia, the most backward of Europe's Great Powers in 1917, that should have embarked on the 'socialist' experiment; how this backwardness has affected her political, economic, social and cultural development ever since; and, finally, the process by which, in the Soviet period, the state came to mediate such a broad range of human activity. For the new edition, Edward Acton has not merely extended his text to include the fall of the USSR and the uncertainties of post Soviet Russia: he also incorporates throughout the many fresh insights that are emerging from the wealth of new data and research now flooding out of Russia. New material is introduced into every chapter; those dealing with the late imperial and Soviet periods are substantially expanded; and analysis of the gripping but painful story of the Russian people is extended to the mid-1990s.