Russia and its Rulers is a book which traces the history of Russia since the last days of the tsars until modern times. Caroline Brooke shows how Alexander II tried to reform his vast, backward and almost entirely rural domain in the second half of the 19th century, reorganising the judiciary, abolishing capital punishment and enfranchising the serfs. But despite the piecemeal reforms of "Alexander the Liberator" and his successors, the desperate poverty and poor working conditions of Russian peasant class combined with the traumas of World War One, led, eventually, to the violent overthrow of the tsars in the Russian revolution in 1917. The brutal civil war which followed ended with Stalin and the Great Terror of 1937-8 and the decimation of Russia's middle class.
Brooke shows how the inherent flaws in the communist ideas of Marx and Lenin led to one of the world's most inhuman regimes, a regime which then found itself in a life and death struggle with Hitler's equally brutal regime after the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941. Why was Russia's victory in World War Two so important and how did Stalin use it afterwards? To what extent did Russia renew itself after World War Two and especially after Khrushchev's denunciation in 1956 of Stalin's crimes? And is there something about Russia which makes democracy to all intents and purposes impossible? In this short book, Caroline Brooke answers these questions, tracing the forces which have shaped modern Russia and which continue to puzzle the West and make Moscow such a formidable and difficult adversary.