In Russia in the time of the tsars, individuals who criticized the government were treated like enemies and suppressed. Those trying to change government policy were well aware that their only hope was to overthrow the system. Many people attempting such change were aided by the government itself, whose acts were so irrational and self-defeating that they only encouraged more opposition. The author describes the activities of the most important dissidents and agitators from the reign of Ivan the Terrible to Nicholas II and the fall of the Romanovs in 1917. Some were fascinating individuals, serious activists, and some of the individuals covered were opportunistic scoundrels and adventurers. The author explores the causes that provoked them and the consequences they faced, and demonstrates that the tsars, time and again, were goaded into overreacting. The effects of this constant push and pull endured into the Communist era.