This crucial period in Russia's history has, up until now, been neglected by historians, but here Brian L. Davies' study provides an essential insight into the emergence of Russia as a great power.
For nearly three centuries, Russia vied with the Crimean Khanate, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire for mastery of the Ukraine and the fertile steppes above the Black Sea, a region of great strategic and economic importance – arguably the pivot of Eurasia at the time.
The long campaign took a great toll upon Russia's population, economy and institutions, and repeatedly frustrated or redefined Russian military and diplomatic projects in the West.
The struggle was every bit as important as Russia's wars in northern and central Europe for driving the Russian state-building process, forcing military reform and shaping Russia's visions of Empire.
Brian L. Davies is Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at San Antonio. His publications include State Power and Community in Early Modern Russia: The Case of Kozlov, 1635-1649 (2004).