Before embarking on any aspect of the study of history, the question arises, why study history? And the conventional answer, George Santayana's, and it seems to me that that's the only thing which made George Santayana famous, that those who do not study history are compelled to repeat it. Now, it seems to me that this sentence makes very little sense. In fact, it doesn't work like that. It's very good for the historians, advertisement, but beyond that I think it has very little value. And the reason for that is because there are no lessons. History does not in fact repeat itself. Life is complicated. Every historical event is complicated not to be sure there are patterns. To be sure human beings are very much in very many things are alike. But the most important, the most interesting aspect is how they are different and so are historical events. More than that, it has always seemed to me that looking for lessons in history are more likely to lead to trouble, because we are bound to learn the wrong lessons. Famous event, a famous lesson which is frequently brought up was appeasement and from 1936 to 1939, the Western powers appeared appeased Nazi Germany. And there is agreement among historians that this was an error. Now, what follows from this? Does it follow that any tyrant, any bad historical actor should be resisted? No. Stalin may have been as wicked a human being as Hitler. He may have had as many victims for which he was responsible as Hitler, but they were not alike. They were different. They had different goals. However terrible things Stalin did to his own people, he had no aggressive intent in his mind. Consequently dealing with him, giving concessions to him, could have been perfectly good policy. Circumstances are different. Circumstances change. So, if I start out by saying that there are no lessons, why do it, why study history? Why have I been doing this in the last 50, 60 years or how many years? The reason for that is because what we learn from history is how human beings behaved in certain set of circumstances. What do we learn by studying history how some human institutions function in different historical circumstances and what do we gain? We gain a broader understanding of humanity, of whom we are. And that may not necessarily, but may lead to wisdom. Will we be able to make better decisions as a result of having acquired wisdom? I hope so. I think it does make a difference. We would be able to evaluate a new set of circumstances because we have learned something about the varieties of humanity, the extraordinary circumstances in which human beings have acted and performed. My next question is, why study Russian history in particular? Now, I recognized that this is debated by some observers, but it seems to me that Russia is and has been a part of Europe. When we are talking about the Russian history we are talking about European history. And indeed, the point has been made by several people that the history of the 20th century begins with the Russian revolution in 1917, and it ends with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The short 19th century in some sense, definitely, Russia was at its center. It was one of its centers. It seems to me that the Russian revolution has changed not only Russia, but the Western world. It seems to me that the Nazis would not have come to power without the Russian revolution of 1917. What I have in mind is not so much that individual right wing Russians after the revolution went to Germany and participated in extreme right wing movements, but because the German people were afraid of the threat of Marxism and communism which allowed Hitler and Hitler's followers to prosper. I think the attitude of the Western world for making social changes was greatly enhanced by the fear of communism. And it seems to me that Russia is very much part of the European world, of the Western world. Now, it seems to me that the greatness of European civilization is that separate individual national cultures coexisted and enriching one another, responding to one another. And Russia was very much part of this process. It's difficult for me to imagine European culture without the great Russian writers, without Russian scientists, Russian musicians. And, of course, the Russians were responding to Europe. And consequently it seems to me, that when we study Russian history, we are studying European history. But, more than that, I have always been particularly attracted to the study of Russian history because it shows extreme circumstances, because it shows how human beings behaved in extraordinary circumstances and so many other major issues. The Russian revolution unquestionably was inspired by idealism. And the process of this evaporation of this idealism, the cost of the idealism, the dangers inherent in idealism are such large issues which are very much worth for us to consider. So, what I am planning to do is the next 10 lectures talk about Soviet and post-Soviet history. First, I want to talk about what made Stalin possible. The definition of idealism. Stalin, it seems to me that the dark heart of Soviet history. First of all, we have to consider what makes Stalin possible. And secondly, the second series of lectures I am planning to give, what was Stalinism, how did people live under the circumstances, what kind of culture did it produce? How did people experience what was going on around them. And then, the third series of lectures, what were the consequences of Stalinism? How did that society, how did that economy recover from the ravages caused by destruction and terror. And then finally, my fourth series of lectures is the collapse of the Soviet Union and its consequences. What kind of political, social, economic system they were able to create on the ruins of the Soviet experiment?