Liberal Ideas in Tsarist Russia: From Catherine the Great to the Russian Revolution by Vanessa Rampton (McGill University, Montreal)
Liberalism is a critically important topic in the contemporary world as liberal values and institutions are in retreat in countries where they seemed relatively secure. Lucidly written and accessible, this book offers an important yet neglected Russian aspect to the history of political liberalism. Vanessa Rampton examines Russian engagement with liberal ideas during Russia's long nineteenth century, focusing on the high point of Russian liberalism from 1900 to 1914. It was then that a self-consciously liberal movement took shape, followed by the founding of the country's first liberal (Constitutional-Democratic or Kadet) party in 1905. For a brief, revelatory period, some Russians - an eclectic group of academics, politicians and public figures - drew on liberal ideas of Western origin to articulate a distinctively Russian liberal philosophy, shape their country's political landscape, and were themselves partly responsible for the tragic experience of 1905.