The first in the new Nations in Transition series, this should be a godsend for students seeking current information on Russia. Kort, author of several other books on Russia and the Soviet Union, does an admirable job of condensing Russian history, from the Kievian city-states to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Well-chosen quotes from sources as diverse as Ivan the Terrible, Tolstoy, and political prisoners personalize the readable text. Two chapters on geography and culture serve as a bridge to the book's second half, which examines politics from December 1991 through 1994. This section will prove most useful to students, as it clearly explains the circumstances of the transition from Gorbachev to Yeltsin and examines everyday life and changing cultural attitudes, especially among young people. A well-organized chronology, detailed index, and small but select bibliography complement the text, and black-and-white photos and clear maps provide good visuals. Although the overall appearance and tone shout "report," any reader with even a mild interest in Russian history will find themselves enjoying their research.