History is full of surprises, but rarely has there been a turnaround as unexpected, and momentous as what occurred to a formative Russia during the medieval period. Attacked and invaded from all sides, it hardly looked as if the small Slavic principalities would survive. But they did and were eventually absorbed into Kiev Rus' and then Muscovy, which gradually expanded and laid the foundation for a huge empire. The author uncovers this extraordinary period, from the founding of the Kievan state to the accession of Peter the Great in 1682, describing both the times of danger and defeat and those of expansion and revitalization.
Lawrence Langer is associate professor of Russian History at the University of Connecticut. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies and the Early Slavic Studies Association.