Overall, I definitely do not recommend Professor Amar's class. He is a very nice guy, but his lectures can literally put you to sleep and can be difficult to follow.Personally, I think the history of Russia and the Soviet Union is fascinating and am very interested in it, but he manages to make the subject painfully dull. There is really just no reason to waste your time in a class as mind-numbingly awful as this one when there are so many amazing professors in the history department that teach great courses with really interesting lectures.He does not take attendance, so I would recommend taking the class with a friend and that way you can switch off who has to go and take notes.
If you do take the class, be very, very strategic about which TA's section you sign up for. Professor Amar does not monitor the TAs at all to ensure that grading is standard across the course, or to make sure each discussion section is more or less doing the same thing, and as a result whether or not you get a good grade is pretty much pre-determined by whichever section you are in. If Alana Hein is one of the TAs, do NOT sign up for her section. The discussions are a waste of time, and she is very unclear about what she expects from you. The class has well over 100+ pages of reading per week, and she expects you to print out a hard copy of every single reading every week (so even if you do the reading on an iPad or whatever, you still have to go kill a bunch of trees before class). She will also be overly critical of details in papers that I assure you no professor would ever take points off for. The average grade from her sections on the first short essay this semester was a B-.
Also, be sure to sit closer to the front in lecture because Professor Amar has a thick accent which can be difficult to understand from the back rows.