"Obolonsky has undertaken the formidable task of reinterpreting Russian history from the Time of Troubles to the dismantling of the Soviet system under Gorbachev and Yeltsin and others. He seeks to understand the present and assess the social trends that will shape the future through a careful reconsideration of Russia's past." "Obolonsky structures his analysis of historical trends around two opposing concepts - a system-centered understanding of social existence in which individuals are viewed as "cogs" functioning for the sake of the whole, and a liberal person-centered paradigm in which society seeks to promote the development of the individual. He distrusts all monistic explanations, preferring to utilize a variety of variables - ethical, economic, sociopsychological, cultural - to explain Russian history, and presenting its course as a long-term and ongoing struggle between two competing models of life. Defining several critical junctures from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries, Obolonsky focuses on these "historical crossroads", at which the course of history might have been changed either in favor of a person-centered way of life or a system-centered trajectory. Currently, Obolonsky maintains, Russia is again at a challenging crossroad, and the future is still open to each of these two different paths." "Students of Russian history, politics, and culture, and also those interested in the broader issues of twentieth-century society will find this informative magnum opus of a senior Russian scholar insightful and thought-provoking."--Jacket.