The History of Russia continues with the aftermath of the assassination of Alexander II in 1881. The reign of his son, Alexander III, saw a return to Russian autocracy, as revolutionaries were pursued by the Okhrana - the Tsarist secret police - and Jews were targeted in pogroms. Sergei Witte helped to modernise Russia's economy, and work began on the Trans-Siberian railway.
Under Nicholas II Russia suffered a humiliating defeat in the Russo-Japanese War. Discontent with the Tsarist government led to the 1905 Revolution, and the Tsar was forced to make political concessions and promise a constitution. Pyotr Stolypin, the new prime minister, passed land reforms to help Russia's peasants, but was assassinated by a revolutionary in 1911, while Siberian faith healer Grigori Rasputin found favour with the imperial family. World War One proved disastrous for Russia. There were enormous casualties at the front, while food shortages caused unrest in the cities. When striking workers were joined by the soldiers sent to disperse them, it became clear the Tsar's government had lost control of the situation. Nicholas II agreed to abdicate, but a new Provisional Government could not halt Russia's slide into political, economic and military chaos... paving the way for a second, Bolshevik revolution.