Sometimes particularly broad collections aren't very useful, so I approached this reader on Russian history, culture and politics with a degree of wariness.
All too often such books try to cover too much too quickly and are full of material that is easily accessible elsewhere, usually in a better form. But this book is very much an exception.
A mammoth project nearly 800 pages long, it manages to explore everything from the much-disputed origins of the Russian nation and the nature of the Orthodox church right through to the geopolitics of the post-Soviet era and the enduring cultural legacy of the bathhouse.
Over 30 of the included pieces haven't been translated from Russian before and the introductory commentaries are both well written and informative.
It is beautifully illustrated throughout with a series of relevant and original photographs that make the texts all the more attractive.
It's also refreshing to see how many of the contributions go beyond simplistic cold-war sloganeering and treat Soviet-era culture with the respect it deserves.