Basement Workshop

Congratulations to John LeDonne!!

David Wolff (SRC)

Long associated with the Harvard Davis Center and Ukrainian Research Institute, John LeDonne has won the most important book prize offered for studies of the 18th century, the 2020 Marc Raeff prize.  The winning volume entitled Forging a Unitary State: Russia’s Management of the Eurasian Space, 1650-1850 on many levels gathers together the findings of Dr. LeDonne’s previous volumes covering roughly the same space and time period:  The Grand Strategy of the Russian Empire, 1650-1831(2004) and The Russian Empire and the World, 1700-1917: The Geopolitics of Expansion and Containment (1997).  For all three of these books, a lifetime accomplishment, it is clear that the 18th century is central.

Already in 2006, in a seminal article in Cahiers du monde russe, Dr. LeDonne set his course declaring:

“The purpose of this article is to present in condensed form the evolution of Russia’s policy toward the administration of its territorial peripheries from the 1650s, when a sustained expansionist drive truly began, to the 1840s, when the empire reached the height of its power, even before the annexation of Central Asia and the coastal Far East. … I propose to discuss only one of the three theaters in which the emergence of a sui generis continental ensemble took place. … Whether a similar evolution can be traced in the southern theater (facing the Habsburg and Ottoman empires) and the western theater (facing Swedes, Poles and Prussians) will require a separate study.”*1

Fourteen years later, the book(s) were completed, exactly as planned encompassing all three “theaters”, a testimony not only to erudition, but to willpower and fortitude. At the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, we greatly welcome this publication and its award for showing the importance of works with a grand sweep, covering and integrating the fateful rise of Russia on the scale of the Eurasian landmass, the same dynamics that the SRC confronts, not only through the length of history and the breadth of the Heartland, but also through the multiple lenses of interdisciplinary study.

We hope that Dr. LeDonne’s ten month stay in Sapporo as an SRC Foreign Visiting Fellow in 1992-3 was useful in launching the grand project which has been so felicitously concluded and now awarded.