describes the collapse of the Russian Empire during World War One.
Drawing material from nine different archives and hundreds of published
sources, this study ties together state failure, military violence, and
decolonization in a single story. Joshua Sanborn excavates the
individual lives of soldiers, doctors, nurses, politicians, and
civilians caught up in the global conflict along the way, creating a
narrative that is both humane and conceptually rich.
the first major study which treats the demise of the Russian Empire as
part of the 20th century phenomenon of modern decolonization, and
provides a readable account of military activity and political change
throughout this turbulent period of war and revolution.
volume opens by
laying out the theoretical relationship between state failure, social
collapse, and decolonization, and then moves chronologically from the
Balkan Wars of 1912-13 through the fierce battles and massive human
dislocations of 1914-16 to the final collapse of the empire in the
midst of revolution in 1917-18.
Sanborn argues that the sudden rise of groups seeking national
self-determination in the borderlands of the empire was the consequence
of state failure, not its cause. At the same time, he shows how the
destruction of state institutions and the spread of violence from the
front to the rear led to a collapse of traditional social bonds and the
emergence of a new, more dangerous, and more militant political
The Great War and the Destruction of the Russian Empire
by Joshua A. Sanborn
Oxford University Press, 2014