The episode is divided about equally between Russian history and a description of it technological feats. The technological accomplishments include the basilica at Novgorod, the onion-domed Church of St. Basil in Moscow, the building of St. Petersburg in a swamp, and the Trans-Siberian Railway.
We get to know something of Ivan the Great and his grandson, Ivan the Terrible, who made Russia out of Moscow. Then Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, all of whom brought European influences into what was essentially an isolated and almost Medieval culture.
Catherine, born of a Prussian aristocratic family, ruled about the time of the American revolutionary war and apparently was an excellent administrator and accomplished diplomat, but, like the other rulers, she favored the nobility and this led ultimately to the Russian revolution of 1917. All those opulent palaces and enormous monuments had been built on the backs of neglected and starving workers. Finally, under Tsar Nicholas, enough was enough.
The many CGIs help us understand how structures were built and war was waged, but I found the brief history of the nation to be at least as interesting.
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