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'It is unlikely that a clearer, more stimulating account of the Russians' extraordinary period of imperial history will be written.' Philip Marsden, Spectator Geoffrey Hosking's landmark book provides us with a new prism through which to view Russian history by posing the apparently simple question: what is Russia's national identity? Hosking answers this with brilliant originality: his thesis is that the needs of Russia's empire prevented the creation of a Russian nation. The Tsars, and before them the Grand Dukes of Moscow, were empire builders rather than nation builders and, as consequence, profoundly alienated ordinary Russians.