Chris Danziger, lecturer

Monday 23–Friday 27 January

 9.15 am


The West has always found Russia an unfathomable place. Churchill famously described it as a ‘riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma’. For all the spotlight thrown on it, recent events have only intensified the enigma. The enigma is only likely to deepen in Russia’s present status as a pariah state. A journey through Russia may solve some of those riddles. The best way to travel is on what is probably the most famous railway in the world, the Trans-Siberian Railway. Not only does it span Russia’s 6 000 miles and nine time zones, but it also links all the light and dark phases of Russian history. We will make the five stops which best illustrate that historical journey – starting in another country, Ukraine, and finishing in another continent, Asia. The story of the Trans-Siberian Railway itself is fascinating enough in its own right but from its windows the whole of Russian history unravels from its pagan beginnings to the would-be superpower of today.

Lecture titles

1. Kiev: conquerors and converts

2. Moscow: from wooden fort to evil empire

3. Kazan: the last Mongol stronghold

4. Ekaterinburg: straddling two continents

5. Vladivostok: the lord of the east

Recommended reading

Figes, O. 2003. Natasha’s Dance. Penguin.

Galleoti, M. 2021. From the Pagans to Putin. London: Ebury.

Newby, E. 1986. The Big Red Train Ride. London: Penguin.

Thubron, C. 2004. Among the Russians. London: Vintage.