This is the first English-language volume that brings the history of Latvia to the threshold of the twenty-first century. Until the re-establishment of Latvian independence in 1991, Soviet dominance served for nearly fifty years to hinder publication of any complete and objective historical record of the region. Plakans now places the evolution and formation of the Latvian nation in a balanced, historical framework that stretches from the early medieval period to the present.
Particular emphasis is given to the period between the Latvian "national awakening" of 1816–1819 and the emergence of an independent Latvia in 1918. From this point forward, the book extensively chronicles an evolving Latvian state structure, provides an appendix that summarizes all changes and important officeholders, and explains the current systems of political parties. This postperestroika historical narrative should contribute significantly to assessing the likelihood of Latvia's survival as an independent republic.