Well since I just happen to be in the middle of an essay on Russian revolution I happen to have a plethora of books I could recommend. However, I'll try to keep it short. Also last week I did an essay on Gorbachev so if you need advice for later period I'll happily give that too, and earlier this term I covered Stalinism, so mainly Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras aren't my thing.
Can you recommend any works on either Russian history or the Cold War that you think might be useful for IB revision? It's been quite easy to find good books for the other syllabus sections but those two are currently my main problems.
My favorite books my teacher has had us study from for Russian history are:
- Reaction and Revolution: Russia 1894-1924 by Michael Lynch
- The Great Powers 1814-1914 by Eric Wilmot (this isn't all about Russia, but it's got some important stuff)
- Communist Russia under Lenin and Stalin by Chris Corin and Terry Fiehn
But since Scade is in college, I bet he's got some more suggestions... These are just the one's I used (I also used Hobsbawm
I will probably end up listing an excessive amount of books, since it is rather easy to forget that after all you're doing six subjects and history is not your only concern.
I would definitely start with Robert Service's A History of Twentieth Century Russia. (Or whatever the title is now, as it keeps changing with new editions, anyway a fairly recent overview of Russian history by Service who is one of the best in the field).
Looking at the revolution itself. Sheila Fitzpatrick's S. Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution. This is a classic revisionist work of the field offering some original, striking and quality analysis as well as a good general overview of the period (and it is not too long either!)
Orlando Figes's A People's Tragedy is a magisterial work on the topic, but unfortunately also magisterial in size. If you can find it in a library (and any relatively well stocked university library/equivalent should have it) I'd recommend taking a look at it. It's a very enjoyable read, but you might not want to go through the whole of, just look at his argument so you can use it for your essays/stuff.
Richard Pipes is the conservative fiercely anti-communist historian of the field, I cannot agree with most of his conclusions and interpretations, but knowing what he says is good, at least for countering his arguments.
There should be at least some books that should suffice for the era of the Russian revolution (and most likely well exceed what is demanded). Robert Service is definitely a good bet, because his book covers the whole Soviet period rather plausibly. As I said before, if you want more books on this period just ask. Also just ask if you're doing more on Russian history esp. Stalin and Gorbachev, (the Fitzpatrick book should be pretty good for Stalin also, as her interpretation is that the revolution only ended in the purges of the 1937 and therefore she included collectivization and industrialization in her book).
When it comes to the Cold War, it isn't really my special are, but I'll have a go. John Lewis Gaddis's book The Cold War is a decent book to start with, especially his treatment of the origins is plausible (that is really the only period that I have studied). However, he is slightly biased by his western perspective. Not always in interpreting events in favour of the West, but more because he simply doesn't deal that well with the Soviet Union imo. However, in a week or so I'll be doing an essay on the Marshall plan, and European economic recovery so if that falls in your areas of interest I'll be able to give some advice. Also his book We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History is a good one. Tony Judt's Postwar is an amazing book basically covering Europe from 1945 up to 2000 or so. He writes very well, is enjoyable to read and is always high quality in analysis. However, his focus is on Europe, not Cold War per se. I also have to advertise David Reynolds's books, after all he is a fellow at my college, his One World Divisible is a good global history of the period 1945 onwards. Also he has done some work on cold war, for example From World War to Cold War. These are some overviews of the period, again if you want I can try to give some more specific books, but don't know how much you need them. And since I'm mainly studying European history, most of the books might be more European in their perspective than desired.
So yeah, there should be something you can dip into, if you want more advice or my views on some areas don't be afraid to ask. After all I'm a pathetic person at university still posting on ibsurvival