Petrov  Alexander . The Formation of the Russian-American Company. Moscow: Nauka., 2000.

The book has been published with the assistance of “Open Society”, George Soros Foundation, Grant # AB 911. The Author is grateful for this assistance.

The Russian American Company (RAC) traded in furs and was Russia’s first and greatest overseas venture, as well as the first government-charted joint stock company. The book focuses on how the Russian American Company grew from a small operation into a large business, comparable to the Hudson's Bay Company. The RAC was very innovative in conducting its commercial activities, and furthermore, this company was able to involve the State in the struggle for the land in the North Pacific. The initiative in the process of forming the RAC belonged solely to the Russian merchants, and the government only followed their recommendations. The history of RAC is inseparable from the people who were the key figures during the formation process. The most important matter discusses is the interaction of the Shelikhov family with the government during the reigns of Catherine II and Paul I. Close attention is paid to the role of women during the formation of the RAC, especially Natalia Shelikhova who was a founder of the RAC and on of the very first Russian businesswoman. During that process, the dominant activities of Shelikhov’s relatives within government circles and throughout the market places were revealed. The tendency of the Russian State to support, or even join, the largest of companies that was acted in Alaska is revealed in this interplay. The book investigates how the Russian-American Company came under governmental control, and whether this transformation supported or hindered the company's affairs. The book analyzes in detail how different governmental institutions affected the commercial activities of the market. In addition, financial data such as the balance of payments, bills of exchange and figures for market activities of the Company are considered. The RAC was formed during the establishment of trade and diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States, so the study of this company and era is essential to a better understanding of our current relationship in this tune of renewed interaction. The book is based on extensive research from more than 50 different document collection in 18 Russian and American archives, many of which are unpublished. The vast bibliography within a multi disciplinary framework has been used.

The author would be grateful for all comments and suggestions on the book, send to the following address Center for North American Studies, Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninskii Prospect 32-A, 117334 Moscow, Russia, or to e-mail address  Web: http: //

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