An intensive but fascinating look at the political and social structure of Russia.
Showing how it worked as a patrimonial state, that is, one in which the king not only ruled the kingdom, but owned it as his property. The economic problems that stemmed from its climate and geography and the resulting problem of the cost of administration. The service class -- not noble in the western European sense -- which served the tsar in office rather than working the land as the serfs did -- and at one point there was a law forbidding their bonding themselves to a person, that is, enslaving themselves, to escape service. The need for intensive labor on farms owing to the brief growing season. How the term tsar meant first the Byzantine emperor and then the Mongol khan before the Muscovite princes. The problems of partiable inheritance, the serfs' villages and communes, the merchant classes, the tendency of the government to make every profitable line of trade a royal monopoly. And more.