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A History of Russia, by Nicholas Riasanovsky, is one of the best single-volume histories of Russia, and goes up to 1992. A History of the Soviet Union by Geoffrey Hosking is a dense, analytical look at the Soviet era up to 1985.Lenin's Tomb by David Remnick, the Washington Post's Moscow correspondent from 1988 to 1992, won a Pulitzer Prize for its flowing account of the Gorbachov era and its end, combining analytic history with interviews with hundreds of people from all walks of life.Ten Days that Shook the World, by American journalist John Reed, is a melodramatic, enthusiastic, contemporary account of the Bolsheviks' 1917 power grab.Trekking in Russia & Central Asia, by Frith Maier, is an unrivalled guide to getting out and about in the former Soviet Union's wild places. It's full of route descriptions, maps and useful background and planning info, focusing mainly on Siberia, Russia's Far East and Central Asia.Russia is a powerhouse of literature, and reading the work of a couple of Russian authors is a great way to get an insight into the country. Beginning with the 19th century, have a look at the work of poet Alexander Pushkin (Yevgeny Onegin), poet and novelist Mikhail Lermontov (A Hero of Our Time), playwright and novelist Nikolai Gogol (The Government Inspector and Dead Souls), novelists Ivan Turgenev (Fathers and Sons), Fyodor Dostoevsky (Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov), Leo Tolstoy (War and Peace and Anna Karenina), Maxim Gorky (My Childhood and The Lower Depths), and playwright Anton Chekhov (The Seagull, The Cherry Orchard and Uncle Vanya). The persecuted voices of the revolutionary period included poets Anna Akhmatova and Osip Mandelstam and author Boris Pasternak. Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita is a tragi-comic must-read about what happens when the Devil visits Moscow. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was enough to get its author Alexander Solzhenitsyn exiled to the USA.More accessible, though somewhat anachronistic, Western popular fiction centering on Russia includes Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park, John Le Carré's Russia House and every other spy novel published between 1963 and 1979.

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