Empires Apart: A History of American and Russian Imperialism

Empires Apart: A History of American and Russian Imperialism

Language: English

Pages: 576

ISBN: 1605981060

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A fresh, commanding, and thought-provoking narrative history of the competing Russian and American empires.

The American road to empire started when the first English settlers landed in Virginia. Simultaneously, the first Russians crossed the Urals and the two empires that would dominate the twentieth century were born. Empires Apart covers the history of the Americans and Russians from the Vikings to the present day. It shows the two empires developed in parallel as they expanded to the Pacific and launched wars against the nations around them. They both developed an imperial 'ideology' that was central to the way they perceived themselves.

Soon after, the ideology of the Russian Empire also changed with the advent of Communism. The key argument of this book is that these changes did not alter the core imperial values of either nation; both Russians and Americans continued to believe in their manifest destiny. Corporatist and Communist imperialism changed only the mechanics of empire. Both nations have shown that they are still willing to use military force and clandestine intrigue to enforce imperial control. Uniquely, Landers shows how the broad sweep of American history follows a consistent path from the first settlers to the present day and, by comparing this with Russia's imperial path, demonstrates the true nature of American global ambitions.

12 black-and-white illustrations

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Young Stalin

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history. The other claimed voyages are pure imagination. He claimed to have come within 13° of the south pole and to have reached geographical co-ordinates located in British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, both somewhat improbable. His letters were appreciated more for their description of the sensual proclivities of the natives than for any scholarly value, and naming continents after Vespucci rather than Columbus is a nonsense. Arguing the merits of the various versions of Vespucci’s

Wind or The Cherry Orchard than from any school textbook. John Wayne and Leo Tolstoy are more authoritative than any teacher. Countless westerns and the countless pages of War and Peace have shaped the prisms through which we view the past, determining what passes on and what is left behind. The unrecorded becomes the unremembered and the invented becomes real. What passes into history is rarely what seems at the time to be of most consequence. Contemporary fame is no guide to historical

defeated not by the military might of the communist empire but by the stubborn resistance of the North Vietnamese leadership and its supporters in the south. The Korean and Vietnamese wars are remarkable not as manifestations of the cold war but as examples of the futility of the traditional military model of imperial control. Ten million people died in Korea and Vietnam in wars that had no lasting global significance. In 1968 the Tet or Lunar New Year was celebrated by a North Vietnamese

practice of ethnic cleansing. Before the Mongols had a chance to shoot their arrows at them, the Kiev Rus took the opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot. Yaroslav the Wise ruled for thirty-five years of unprecedented glory, but in death showed none of his famed wisdom. In dividing his kingdom among his five sons Yaroslav guaranteed conflict within and disunity without. Principalities fought each other, and barbarian tribes raided with increasing impunity. In one season alone, in 1160,

and 1700 Russia gained an average of 13,500 square miles a year – as Richard Pipes puts it that is equivalent to adding a country the size of Holland to its empire every year for 150 years. (But as Pipes also points out most of this territory was almost empty: even in the most developed areas in the west of its empire the population density stood at only one to three people per square mile in the sixteenth century compared with one to thirty in much of western Europe.) The details of its

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