Posts in History
Horsemen of the Sands, by Leonid Yuzefovich

In a Soviet elementary school, a bombastic teacher lectures his young students on traffic accidents and family separation, unwittingly stirring an emotional crisis. A lost wallet, an office fling, an upset stomach—the minutiae of life unveil the private tragedies at the heart of a school community.

A world away, an old herdsman entrances a young tank commander with the legend of Baron Ungern, the real-life White Russian officer who conquered Mongolia. A foggy epic unfolds, a tale of faith and revenge centering on a mysterious amulet, said to make the wearer invincible. From the dim of the classroom to the vast Mongolian steppe, Leonid Yuzefovich’s masterful novellas The Storm and Horsemen of the Sands drill straight to the core of human emotion. These Russian parables illuminate the fears, passions, and ambitions beneath the grandest acts and the tiniest gestures.

Read More
March 1917: The Red Wheel, Node III, Book 1, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The Red Wheel is Solzhenitsyn’s magnum opus about the Russian Revolution. Solzhenitsyn tells this story in the form of a meticulously researched historical novel, supplemented by newspaper headlines of the day, fragments of street action, cinematic screenplay, and historical overview. The first two nodes— August 1914 and November 1916—focus on Russia’s crises and recovery, on revolutionary terrorism and its suppression, on the missed opportunity of Pyotr Stolypin’s reforms, and how the surge of patriotism in August 1914 soured as Russia bled in World War I. March 1917—the third node—tells the story of the Russian Revolution itself, during which not only does the Imperial government melt in the face of the mob, but the leaders of the opposition prove utterly incapable of controlling the course of events.

Read More
High Society Dinners: Dining in Tsarist Russia, by Yuri Lotman and Elena Pogosyan.

High Society Dinners offers extraordinary insight into the domestic arrangements of the Russian aristocracy, presenting nine months' worth of menus served in St Petersburg to the guests of Petr Durnovo (1835–1918), Adjutant-General of the Tsar's Imperial Suite, part of an important late nineteenth-century dynasty that included ministers and high officials. The menus themselves would be useful enough for what they reveal about culinary culture in Russia, but Yuri Lotman's commentary is invaluable, dissecting the dining rituals and social circles of the participants. Durnovo's menus and guest lists, interspersed with extracts from family letters and the leading newspapers and journals of the day, set in context the domestic and gastronomic underpinnings of life in this group at the heart of the Russian empire.

Read More
The Leningrad Blockade, 1941-1944, by Richard Bidlack and Nikita Lomagin

Based largely on formerly top-secret Soviet archival documents (including 66 reproduced documents and 70 illustrations), this book portrays the inner workings of the communist party and secret police during Germany's horrific 1941–44 siege of Leningrad, during which close to one million citizens perished. It shows how the city's inhabitants responded to the extraordinary demands placed upon them, encompassing both the activities of the political, security, and military elite as well as the actions and attitudes of ordinary Leningraders.

Read More
Katyn: A Crime Without Punishment, edited by Wojciech Materski, Anna M. Cienciala, and Natalia S. Lebedeva

The 14,500 Polish army officers, police, gendarmes, and civilians taken prisoner by the Red Army when it invaded eastern Poland in September 1939 were held in three special NKVD camps and executed at three different sites in spring 1940, of which the one in Katyn Forest is the most famous. Another 7,300 prisoners held in NKVD jails in Ukraine and Belarus were also shot at this time, although many others disappeared without trace. The murder of these Poles is among the most monstrous mass murders undertaken by any modern government.

Read More
Soviet Culture and Power, edited by Katerina Clark, Evgeny Dobrenko, Andrei Artizov, and Oleg V. Naumov

Leaders of the Soviet Union, Stalin chief among them, well understood the power of art, and their response was to attempt to control and direct it in every way possible. This book examines Soviet cultural politics from the Revolution to Stalin's death in 1953. Drawing on a wealth of newly released documents from the archives of the former Soviet Union, the book provides remarkable insight on relations between Gorky, Pasternak, Babel, Meyerhold, Shostakovich, Eisenstein, and many other intellectuals, and the Soviet leadership. Stalin's role in directing these relations, and his literary judgments and personal biases, will astonish many.

Read More
Moura, by Nina Berberova

Baroness Maria Ignatievna Zakrevskaya Benckendorff Budberg hailed from the Russian aristocracy and lived in the lap of luxury—until the Bolshevik Revolution forced her to live by her wits. Thereafter her existence was a story of connivance and stratagem, a succession of unlikely twists and turns. Intimately involved in the mysterious Lockhart affair, a conspiracy which almost brought down the fledgling Soviet state, mistress to Maxim Gorky and then to H.G. Wells, Moura was a woman of enormous energy, intelligence, and charm whose deepest passion was undoubtedly the mythologization of her own life.

Read More
Voices of Revolution, 1917, by Mark D. Steinberg

Although much has been written about the political history of the Russian revolution, the human story of what the revolution meant to ordinary people has rarely been told. This book gives voice to the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of the Russian people—workers, peasants, soldiers—as expressed in their own words during the vast political, social, and economic upheavals of 1917.

Read More
Gifts to the Tsars, ed. Barry Shifman

The Red Wheel is Solzhenitsyn’s magnum opus about the Russian Revolution. Solzhenitsyn tells this story in the form of a meticulously researched historical novel, supplemented by newspaper headlines of the day, fragments of street action, cinematic screenplay, and historical overview. The first two nodes— August 1914 and November 1916—focus on Russia’s crises and recovery, on revolutionary terrorism and its suppression, on the missed opportunity of Pyotr Stolypin’s reforms, and how the surge of patriotism in August 1914 soured as Russia bled in World War I. March 1917—the third node—tells the story of the Russian Revolution itself, during which not only does the Imperial government melt in the face of the mob, but the leaders of the opposition prove utterly incapable of controlling the course of events.

Read More
Stroganoff: The Palace and Collections of a Russian Noble Family, ed. Penelope Hunter-Stiebel

The Red Wheel is Solzhenitsyn’s magnum opus about the Russian Revolution. Solzhenitsyn tells this story in the form of a meticulously researched historical novel, supplemented by newspaper headlines of the day, fragments of street action, cinematic screenplay, and historical overview. The first two nodes— August 1914 and November 1916—focus on Russia’s crises and recovery, on revolutionary terrorism and its suppression, on the missed opportunity of Pyotr Stolypin’s reforms, and how the surge of patriotism in August 1914 soured as Russia bled in World War I. March 1917—the third node—tells the story of the Russian Revolution itself, during which not only does the Imperial government melt in the face of the mob, but the leaders of the opposition prove utterly incapable of controlling the course of events.

Read More
The Escape of Alexei, by Georgy Egorov, Igor Lysenko, and Vadim Petrov

The Red Wheel is Solzhenitsyn’s magnum opus about the Russian Revolution. Solzhenitsyn tells this story in the form of a meticulously researched historical novel, supplemented by newspaper headlines of the day, fragments of street action, cinematic screenplay, and historical overview. The first two nodes— August 1914 and November 1916—focus on Russia’s crises and recovery, on revolutionary terrorism and its suppression, on the missed opportunity of Pyotr Stolypin’s reforms, and how the surge of patriotism in August 1914 soured as Russia bled in World War I. March 1917—the third node—tells the story of the Russian Revolution itself, during which not only does the Imperial government melt in the face of the mob, but the leaders of the opposition prove utterly incapable of controlling the course of events.

Read More
A Revolution of the Spirit: Crisis of Value in Russia, 1890-1918, eds. Martha Bohachevsky-Chomiak and Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal

The Red Wheel is Solzhenitsyn’s magnum opus about the Russian Revolution. Solzhenitsyn tells this story in the form of a meticulously researched historical novel, supplemented by newspaper headlines of the day, fragments of street action, cinematic screenplay, and historical overview. The first two nodes— August 1914 and November 1916—focus on Russia’s crises and recovery, on revolutionary terrorism and its suppression, on the missed opportunity of Pyotr Stolypin’s reforms, and how the surge of patriotism in August 1914 soured as Russia bled in World War I. March 1917—the third node—tells the story of the Russian Revolution itself, during which not only does the Imperial government melt in the face of the mob, but the leaders of the opposition prove utterly incapable of controlling the course of events.

Read More
Landmarks: A Collection of Essays on the Russian Intelligentsia, eds. Boris Shragin and Albert Todd

The Red Wheel is Solzhenitsyn’s magnum opus about the Russian Revolution. Solzhenitsyn tells this story in the form of a meticulously researched historical novel, supplemented by newspaper headlines of the day, fragments of street action, cinematic screenplay, and historical overview. The first two nodes— August 1914 and November 1916—focus on Russia’s crises and recovery, on revolutionary terrorism and its suppression, on the missed opportunity of Pyotr Stolypin’s reforms, and how the surge of patriotism in August 1914 soured as Russia bled in World War I. March 1917—the third node—tells the story of the Russian Revolution itself, during which not only does the Imperial government melt in the face of the mob, but the leaders of the opposition prove utterly incapable of controlling the course of events.

Read More