Ukranian Nihilist Sergei Stepniak’s compelling study of the Russian peasant. Published over 120 years ago in the time of Nicholas II (but mostly written in the time of Alexander III) it describes the social plight of the peasant in 19th century Russia and the collective forms of social organisation they adopted that could have provided the basis for the development of Russia as a free and egalitarian society. Perhaps more importantly from a contemporary perspective, it helps explains the influence of revived orthodox and non-orthodox religion that persists at the cultural and political heart of modern-day Russia. A timeless and powerful insight into the Russian psyche, national culture and rural history. Focusing on village life, agricultural labourers, the landed gentry, the churches and sects, Stepniak examines the social structures of the village and artisanal communes, and illustrates the intimate connection between patriarchal theocracy, the parochial clergy, popular religious faith and the Russian peasantry. Invaluable for anyone interested in — or wishing to understand — the roots of Vladimir Putin’s ultra-conservative nationalism and his territorial ambitions.