Vanessa Rampton, “Liberal Ideas in Tsarist Russia: From Catherine the Great to the Russian Revolution”

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.


‘Historian of ideas Rampton (McGill Univ.) has written a book that provides a surprisingly clear and cogent introduction to liberal ideas and writing in the final third of the Romanov dynasty.’

J. C. Sandstrom Source: Choice

‘… the book contains much fascinating detail that tells us a great deal about intellectual culture in turn-of-the-century Russia, and as such, I would consider the book to be a … rewarding read.’

Stefan Kirmse Source: H-Soz-Kult

Cambridge University Press

Online publication date: February 2020