Now in English for the first time, Professor Beskrovny examines the "nuts and bolts" of the Russian military and naval organizations, and has gleaned a truly massive compendium of data from archives long unavailable to many Soviet, let alone most Western scholars, military or otherwise.
Cloth. xxvii. 408 pp. 214 tables. ISBN 0-87569-139-0. $55.00
"The availability of this volume with enormous quantity of data embedded in the text...must be hailed as an event of inordinate importance."-John Erickson in International History Review
He provides us with an invaluable handbook on all important aspects of Russia's armed forces during a period of major change. Here readers may trace the evolving state of the Imperial armed forces, such as the consequences of abandoning the Petrine system of conscription in favor of an army based on short-term conscripts and reservists.
The same is true for the navy and apart from manpower Beskrovny's account permits one to follow shipbuilding programs during the transition from sail to steam, and from wooden walls to modern armored battleships.
He also provides data on the administrative and command structures of both services, and of all aspects of their supply systems and programs for weapons acquisitions. Even those who normally would ignore a military "handbook" nonetheless will find a mine of production data from what we now call the "military-industrial complex", on the progress made by various railway building programs, on the spread of the telegraph network, on the introduction of steam transportation on Russia's inland waterway and more.
Clearly Beskrovny has produced a work of rare value and that can serve as a starting point for further research in any number of aspects of Russian military and social history. Indeed, its significance is indicated by fact that similar compendiums of data are available for no other army of or most other periods.
This book long will be a standard guide for students of both Russian and general military, economic and social history.
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