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October 2017 Vol. 55 No. 2

University Press of Colorado

The following review appeared in the October 2017 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Social & Behavioral Sciences
History, Geography & Area Studies

Sabol, Steven. "The touch of civilization": comparing American and Russian internal colonization. University Press of Colorado, 2017. 298p bibl index ISBN 9781607325499, $55.00; ISBN 9781607325505 ebook, $44.00.

World historians have often made oblique references to how the expansion of the US was similar to that of the Russian Empire, as both were colonial (and imperial) powers that expanded across contiguous territories, unlike their imperialist brethren who crossed the seas. While this comparison is often made in passing, Sabol (Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte) has produced a remarkable study comparing the Russian colonization of the Kazakh steppes to US dominance of the Native American groups known most commonly as the Sioux. He examines both the methods of colonization and resistance. While noting the limitations of such comparisons, particularly in terms of the differences in eras (18th century versus 19th) and populations (hundreds of thousands versus tens of thousands), Sabol demonstrates how comparative history should be performed. In doing so, he properly places US history in a world context while also expanding understanding of Russian methods and the interconnectiveness of the US and Russian governments' plans for internal colonization. As a work that is inventive in approach and noteworthy in scholarship, one can only hope that other scholars will take up the precedent set by Sabol.

--T. M. May, University of North Georgia

Summing Up: Essential. All academic levels/libraries.