One of the world's preeminent historians, Marc Ferro is a leading member of the Annales School of France and a recognized authority on early twentieth-century European history. For well over two decades, in volumes such as The February Revolution of 1917 and October 1917, he has demonstrated an unsurpassed skill in capturing the social and political forces that led to the Russian Revolution. Now Ferro turns his considerable talents to the biography of one of the pivotal figures of that era, Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia.
For this important new biography, Ferro has searched extensively in Russian archives to illuminate Nicholas's character. What emerges is a vivid portrait of a reluctant leader, a young man forced by the death of his father into a role for which he was ill-equipped. A conformist and traditionalist, Nicholas admired the order, ritual, and ceremony identified with the intangible grandeur of autocracy, and he hated everything that might shake that autocracy--the intelligentsia, the Jews, the religious sects. His reign, as Ferro documents, was one of continual trouble: a humiliating war with Japan; the 1905 revolution that forced Nicholas to accept a constitutional assembly, the Duma; the international crisis of 1914, leading to World War I; and finally the Revolution of 1917, forcing his abdication. Throughout, we see a Tsar who was utterly opposed to change and to the ferment of ideas that stirred his country, who felt it was his duty to preserve intact the powers God had entrusted in him. Ferro also provides an intimate portrait of Nicholas's personal life: his wife Alexandra; his four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, sisters so close they signed letters "OTMA," the initials of their Christian names; his son and heir Alexis, who suffered from hemophilia; and the various figures in the court, most notably Rasputin, whose ability to revive the frequently ailing Alexis made him indispensable to the Tsaritsa. (Ferro recounts that, when Alexandra heard of Rasputin's murder, she collapsed in anguish, certain her son was lost; but when Nicholas heard the news while with the army, he simply walked off whistling cheerfully.) Perhaps most intriguing is Ferro's chapter on the fate of the Tsar and his family, examining all the rumors and contradictory testimony that swirl around this still cloudy event. Ferro concludes that Alexandra and her daughters may have survived the revolution, and the woman who later surfaced in Europe claiming to be Anastasia may well have been so.
This authoritative biography by one of the world's great historians shines a bright light on an ordinary man raised to an extraordinary station, who carried an unwanted burden, which crushed him.
An NYRB Classics OriginalFew writers had to confront as many of the last century's mass tragedies as Vasily Grossman, who wrote with terrifying clarity about the Shoah, the Battle of Stalingrad, and the Terror Famine in the Ukraine. An Armenian Sketchbook, however, shows us a very different Grossman, notable for his tenderness, warmth, and sense of fun. After the Soviet government confiscated--or, as Grossman always put it, "arrested"--Life and Fate, he took on the task of revising a literal Russian translation of a long Armenian novel. The novel was of little interest to him, but he needed money and was evidently glad of an excuse to travel to Armenia. An Armenian Sketchbook is his account of the two months he spent there. This is by far the most personal and intimate of Grossman's works, endowed with an air of absolute spontaneity, as though he is simply chatting to the reader about his impressions of Armenia--its mountains, its ancient churches, its people--while also examining his own thoughts and moods. A wonderfully human account of travel to a faraway place, An Armenian Sketchbook also has the vivid appeal of a self-portrait.
Russian playwright and historian Radzinsky mines sources never before available to create a fascinating portrait of the monarch, and a minute-by-minute account of his terrifying last days. Updated For The Paperback Edition, From the Trade Paperback edition.
No other drink can claim to have influenced the course of human affairs more than vodka. "The green serpent" transformed the Russian state into a great power but it helped to destroy both tsarism and communism -- as well as the lives of millions of Russian peasants. From Boris Yeltsin being dropped in a font and Shostakovich being cured of writer's block to "the great vodka debauch" of the Russo-Japanese War and the Churchill-Stalin drinking duel at Yalta, the spirit determined the lives of individual Russians and the fate of a nation. Both sophisticated and brutal, vodka is the best-selling spirit in the world. Distilled from rye or the humble potato, it has been known since the fourteenth century, when it was first used as a medicine, but it took James Bond and the Cold War to make it glamorous in the West, particularly with younger drinkers. 'The first mention of vodka in English was made by a Scotsman, Captain Cochrane, who drank the liquid serpent while in Russia in 1820. He called it 'vodka(whisky)', a sketchy comparison, at best. Any respectable Caledonian will insist whisky-drinking is far too important an activity to involve the complementary consumption of food. Vodka-drinking, on the other hand, is too important to be undertaken without food. English drinkers have never got the hang of this crucial detail. The new Dedalus Book of Vodka by Geoffrey Elborn contains an extract from Angel Pavement(1930) by J.B.Priestley, ' the first appearance of vodka in English fiction', in which Mr Golspie, a shady businessman, induces miss Matfield, a proper typist, to down a glass or two. Miss Matfield thrills to the 'incendiary bomb' which 'had burst in her throat and sent white fire racing down every channel of her body'. It is delightful, but it lacks an essential ingredient: the pickle.' Absent Friend in The Times Literary Supplement 'Chekhov was more ambivalent. As Geoffrey Elborn shows in his new cultural history, The Dedalus Book of Vodka, he was torn between his knowledge as a doctor and his understanding of human nature. Two of his brothers were alcoholic, and he denounced vodka companies as "Satan's blood peddlers". But he sympathised with the Russian peasantry, for whom vodka was nectar. And in his stories and plays, those who drink excessively are portrayed with humour and compassion. Blake Morrison in The Guardian
A saga of love and lust, personal tensions and rivalries, antagonisms and hatreds, The Flight of the Romanovs describes the last century of the Russian imperial dynasty, the Romanovs, from the youth of the future tsar Alexander III in the 1860s until the death in 1960 of his daughter, Olga Alexandrovna, the last grand duchess. John Curtis Perry and Constantine V. Pleshakov use a wealth of previously untapped sources, including unpublished diaries of many of the principal characters, interviews with people who knew them well, and never before published photographs to create a history of a family and a time. Along the way we learn of the relationships between Alexander III and his children, the conspiracy against Rasputin, Duke Dimitrie's affair with Coco Chanel, the hostile behavior of the House of Windsor toward the Romanovs, and the war between the Romanovs and the secret police. Concluding with a discussion of the imperial restoration movement in Russia today, The Flight of the Romanovs is a must-read for anyone interested in the Romanov family, Russian history, and the history of European royalty.
This bitter war between Russia and Turkey, aided by Britain and France, was the setting for the stuff of legends. This book details the gallant yet suicidal Charge of the Light Brigade, now immortalised in film: in the words of Tennyson, 'Into the Valley of Death rode the Six Hundred'. It relates the reports made by the first real war correspondant, William Russell of the London Times - reports which served only to highlight the army's problems - and memorialises the heroic deeds of Florence Nightingale, who struggled to save young men from the most formidable enemy in the Crimean War: not the Russians, but cholera.