Russian History and Literature
The Last of the Tsars
Nicholas II and the Russian Revolution
The distinguished historian of revolutionary Russia, Robert Service brings a profound understanding of the period and a forensic examination of official and personal records to this study of Nicholas II’s life and thought in the 16 months after the February 1917 Revolution and his abdication. The book examines the political environments of the Tsar’s places of detention, Irkutsk, Tobolsk and Ekaterinberg; his thinking on Russia and his own role; and the circumstances of the Romanov family’s execution in July 1918.
Narrative, Lyric, Polemic, and Ribald Verse
The renowned translator Walter Arndt (1916–2011) presents a collection of Pushkin’s narrative, lyric, polemic and ribald verse with three versions of each poem: the original Russian, a close translation into English, and a poetic verse translation that aims to capture the form and spirit of the original.
All the Kremlin's Men
Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin
Drawing on hundreds of interviews with Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, the Russian journalist Mikhail Zygar presents a portrait of Putin, the ‘man who accidentally became king’ and the machinations of his court. Described as ‘a milestone’ by the Financial Times, the book covers the years 1999 to 2015, revealing the inner workings of the Kremlin and the power struggles of oligarchs and officials as it traces Putin’s metamorphosis from ‘Vlad the Lionheart’ to ‘Vlad the Terrible’.
The Burning of Moscow
Napoleon's Trial by Fire 1812
As soon as the French troops entered a deserted Moscow in September 1812, a fire broke out that destroyed two thirds of the city and ultimately forced Napoleon to embark on the disastrous winter retreat that routed his army. Drawing on French, German, Polish and Russian archives and eyewitness accounts, Mikaberidze examines this pivotal event from Russian and French points of view, exploring the Russians’ motives for the conflagration and assessing its consequences.
The Life of Georgy Zhukov
It is arguable that Georgy Zhukov was the greatest of the Allied generals of the Second World War, surpassing Eisenhower, Montgomery or Patton in military effectiveness. Unlike his rival Red Army generals he was prepared to stand up to Stalin when necessary and although charming in his private life, was a brutal and decisive commander. This is the first major biography of the Soviet hero, drawing on newly available sources in the Russian archives and previously unpublished excerpts from Zhukov's own memoirs. Slightly off-mint.
The People Behind the Power
Steeped in authoritarianism, secrecy and corruption, Russia continues to baffle and frustrate the West. Why is it the way it is? Traversing this vast country from the violent Caucasus to Arctic Siberia, journalist Gregory Feifer interviews hundreds of people, from oligarchs to beggars on Moscow's streets, about everything from sex and vodka to Russia's relations with the world. What emerges is a picture of a society bursting with vitality under a tradition-bound leadership often on the verge of collapse. Slightly off-mint and felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
My Half Century
Anna Akhmatova (1889–1966) is one of 20th-century Russia’s greatest poets, whose work is a powerful response to the repression and tragedy of the Stalin era. This collection of her letters, essays, an unfinished memoir, diatribes against the government and rousing wartime broadcasts forms the closest thing to a self-portrait the elusive writer allowed herself. Among these tantalizing fragments are vivid memories of friends and contemporaries such as Blok, Mandelstam, Modigliani, Pasternak and Tsvetaeva.
The Petty Demon
This decadent and very provocative novel by the symbolist writer and poet Fyodor Sologub (1863–1927) narrates the lurid story of Peredonov, a sadistic and generally repellent schoolmaster, descending into madness in his provincial town. Translated and introduced by SD Cioran, along with short critical essays. Slightly off-mint.
Rabbits and Boa Constrictors
Fazil Iskander (1929–2016) was famously described as the ‘Abkhazian Mark Twain’, having a similar sense of humour to the American author. Written in 1989, this novel tells of a struggle between rabbits and boa constrictors – the manipulators and the manipulated trying to function in a failed utopia.
and Other Stories
This collection of six stories, first published in 1988, offers an introduction to the fiction of Boris Pilnyak (1894–1937), whose work – revolutionary in both style and subject matter – eventually led to his death sentence in Stalin’s USSR. Translated by Vera T Reck and Michael Green.
An Extraordinary Event, or a Show in the Arcade, The True Story of How a Certain Gentleman of Familiar Age and Familiar Appearance was Swallowed Alive by the Arcade Crocodile, Completely, and Utterly, and What Came Out
Written in 1865, this satire on the Russian radical left concerns Ivan Matveich, a civil servant who goes to see a crocodile on show as a foreign curiosity. Ivan is swallowed whole but survives to carry on preaching socialism from the monster’s belly. Translated, with an introduction by SD Cioran.
Russian Romantic Prose
The period between 1820 and 1841 is remembered as the great age of Russian literature, dominated by the towering figures of Pushkin and Gogol. At the time, however, their popularity was equalled and sometimes surpassed by writers such as Alexander Bestuzhev-Marlinsky and Alexander Veltman, whose work can be found here. Among the other tales of adventure, fantasy and passion in the anthology are pieces by Lermontov, Pushkin and Gogol.
The Russian Symbolist Theatre
An Anthology of Plays and Critical Texts
In the years before the Russian Revolution, many of the country’s leading dramatists rejected the realism of their predecessors in favour of a symbolism inspired by Ibsen and Maeterlinck. This unique anthology brings to life the heady fin-de-siècle Russian theatre with translations of plays by Blok, Sologub and Kuzmin, alongside polemical essays by Briusov, Bely and others. A general introduction and insightful prefaces set the writers and their work in their cultural and historical context.
Word for Word
A Translator's Memoir of Literature, Politics, and Survival in Soviet Russia
A Russian Jew, who lived in Germany, France and Palestine before her family settled in the USSR in 1933, Lilianna Lungina (1920–1998) became a celebrated literary translator, introducing Russian readers to the work of writers including Knut Hamsun, Heinrich Böll, Colette and Ibsen. Lilya lived through some of the most harrowing events of the 20th century, yet her memoir, as told to Oleg Dorman and illustrated with personal photographs, shows how misfortune can lead to ‘surprising and improbable happiness and richness’.
Musorgsky & His Circle
A Russian Musical Adventure
The 'Mighty Handful' of five Russian composers who came together in St Petersburg in the 1860s had little musical education, but they created some of the most popular music in the classical repertoire, including Borodin's Prince Igor and Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherazade. Walsh's study analyses how this rare example of a creative musical collective worked and reveals the crucial role played by their mentor, the art historian Vladimir Stasov, in fostering a Russian nationalist music. Slightly off-mint and American-cut pages.
The Untold Love Story and the Inspiration for Doctor Zhivago
Boris Pasternak’s masterpiece Doctor Zhivago has sold millions, but the true story behind its famed lovers has never been told. Drawing on previously neglected sources and original interviews, this scrupulously researched account breaks the family’s long silence about the author’s affair with Olga Ivinskaya to reveal how, on her release from Stalin’s gulags, the writer refused to leave his wife, channelling his thwarted passion into his great novel instead.
The Master and Margarita
One of the most popular Russian novels of the 20th century, The Master and Margarita blends surrealism and political satire with a dazzling cast that includes Satan, Pontius Pilate and a talking cat. This careful abridgement of a new translation is read by the charismatic Julian Rhind-Tutt.
A Life in Conflict
Sergei Eisenstein, one of the geniuses of world cinema, was not only a leading practitioner of his art, but also its principal theorist. Here, Bergan tells the dramatic story of the director's life and his groundbreaking work, from a precocious childhood to the revolutionary art scene of the 1920s, through a landmark film career and relationships with artists as diverse as James Joyce and Walt Disney, to his untimely death at the age of 50.
A Russian Life in Science
Born to a family of priests in provincial Russia, Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936) made his home and professional life in imperial St Petersburg, suffered the destruction of his world during the Bolshevik Revolution, and successfully rebuilt his career in the 1930s. In this definitive biography, Todes reinterprets the physiologist's famous research on conditional reflexes and weaves his life, values and science into the tumultuous period of Russian history between the reigns of Tsar Nicholas I and Stalin.
Tolstoy's great tragedy tells the story of Anna, a young woman trapped in a loveless marriage who forfeits family life and acceptance in Russian society when she falls passionately in love with a cavalry officer. First published in Russian in 1878; translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude. Collector’s Library.
From Russia with Doubt
In 2010 Adam Lerner, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, mounted an exhibition of what appeared to be works by avant-garde Russian artists of the 1920s – Malevich, El Lissitzky, Rodchenko, Tatlin – but the paintings' only provenance was eBay and tales of smugglers. Impressed by the quality of the work, Lerner went ahead and exhibited them 'Artist unknown'. The paintings are reproduced here along with the story of the quest to authenticate and appraise the 181 would-be masterpieces.
Images of a Plague
Described by the Russian photographer Gusov as an 'anthropological investigation of contemporary man – who we are, who we have become and how absurd we can be at times', this collection of over 300 photographs has consumerism and tourism in its sights. Gusov's lens focuses on the odd juxtapositions of advertising and real life, and on people taking photographs, disporting themselves on beaches, eating street food, sleeping or working in locations that range from Ascot to Siberia.
Secrets of the Russian Ballet from the Rule of the Tsars to Today
For over two centuries, Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet has been the pride of Russian culture, a source of national prestige under tsars and communists alike; yet the shocking acid attack on its artistic director Sergei Filin in 2015 was but the latest in a long line of scandals. Here, the musicologist Simon Morrison charts the Bolshoi’s history of political manipulation and artistic rivalry, with the focus always on the ballet, ‘the cruellest and most wondrous of the arts’.
A Private Collection
The jewellery photographed for this magnificent book is the collection belonging to the women of one Russian family, with pieces ranging from traditional Azerbaijani earrings owned by the present collector's grandmother in the late 19th century to modern pieces by jewellers such as Cartier and Bulgari. Although there are breathtaking precious stones, not all the pieces are very valuable; beauty has been the collectors' criterion. The book is handsomely bound, with gilt-edged pages, a silk marker and slipcase. Off-mint.
A Journey Through the Yeltsin Era
The well-known historian and activist Roy Medvedev (b.1925) analyses events in the Russian Federation after late August 1991. Completed in 1998, with a postscript on the upheavals of 1999, the study looks at plans that were meant to restructure a society but were destined to fail. Translated and edited by George Shriver.
The Last Tsar
The fate of Tsar Nicholas II and his family has long haunted the public imagination. The autocratic ruler of one-sixth of the earth’s land area, he was responsible for mass imprisonment, pogroms and the shooting of demonstrators; yet photographs show him as a shy, gentle family man. This balanced and sympathetic history outlines the personal and political background that shaped his doomed reign, and could have overwhelmed a far abler ruler.
Catherine the Great
Portrait of a Woman
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Peter the Great, Robert Massie returns with a biography of Russia's greatest and most controversial empress, Catherine the Great (1729–1796). Massie describes how an obscure German princess travelled to Russia at the age of 14, and overcame the machinations of the feudal aristocracy, her scheming mother and her bullying husband to become the most powerful woman in the world.
A Brief History of 1917
Russia's Year of Revolution
Lenin, Trotsky and Karensky were the ideological driving force behind the Russian Revolution: but were they, as one of Roy Bainton's sources describes them, 'totally evil men'? Or was Lenin, as a Red Army veteran insisted, 'a good man who ran the country on a worker's wages'? Bainton's brief history approaches the revolution from the standpoint of the ordinary mass of Russians, describing both the bravado of the revolutionaries and a people punished repeatedly by circumstance.
Russian Eyewitness Accounts of the Campaign of 1812
Napoleon's campaign in Russia in 1812 has received much attention from Western historians but few Russian personal accounts have been available in English. Through a series of newly translated memoirs, letters and diaries, this volume gives an insight into the thoughts of the Russian leadership and the ordinary soldier from the initial retreat and battles at Smolensk, Borodino, and Maloyaroslavets to the last weeks when a lack of supplies fatally exposed Napoleon's forces to the hardships of the Russian winter.
First published in 1958 and reissued in 2017 to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, Moorehead’s much-acclaimed book provides the general reader with a concise and straightforward account of the Revolution and events leading up to it, and explores the German connections with the Bolsheviks. Alan Moorehead (1910–1983) was a renowned war correspondent, essayist and historian; his book remains a very readable narrative of 1917, but also sheds light on Western attitudes to the USSR during the Cold War.
An Illustrated History
Capital of the largest country in the world, Moscow has experienced both glorious and turbulent times. This volume recounts its political, social and artistic history through the rise and fall of Imperial Russia, the Bolshevik revolution, two world wars and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, paying particular attention to changes in the city's size and architecture.
The Communist Manifesto
Marx and Engels' 'detailed theoretical and practical programme' for the Communist League, first published in German in 1872, has to be reckoned one of the most influential books in history. The original English translation by Samuel Moore (1888) is published here as part of The Skeptical Reader series, with an introduction by the famous historian of Soviet Russia, Robert Conquest.
A Very Dangerous Woman
The Lives, Loves and Lies of Russia's Most Seductive Spy
Adventurer, seductress and spy, the Russian baroness Moura Budberg embarked on a passionate affair in 1918 with Robert Bruce Lockhart, a British agent plotting Lenin’s downfall. Based on previously unexamined letters, diaries and documents, and narrated with the pace of a thriller, this first-ever biography tells the incredible story of a woman whose lovers included Maxim Gorky and HG Wells, and who became embroiled in the web of scandal surrounding the Cambridge Five.
The Russian Army in the First World War
Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives
Rarely seen, here are photographs of first the Tsarist army, then the army of the Provisional Government and Bolsheviks in action against the Germans and Austro-Hungarians on the Eastern Front until the 1917 Revolution and the end of Russia’s war.
Imperial Russian Air Force 1898–1917
In Photographs at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century
Compared with the US and France, Russian colonization of the skies was almost a decade behind, but by 1910 a nascent aviation industry, with its flying schools, festivals and maiden flights, began capturing the nation’s imagination. This collection of over 400 photographs documents the flying machines of pre-revolutionary Russia, from turn of the century balloons and dirigibles to First World War bombers, and portrays the enthusiasts and aviators that made the Russian skies come alive.
Operation Barbarossa and the Eastern Front 1941
Hitler invaded Russia in 1941 but the initial successes of Operation Barbarossa turned into a nightmare as a combination of stretched lines, dogged opposition and the Russian winter turned the tide. This collection of rare photographs from the campaign, with detailed accompanying captions, provides an insight into the realities of the fighting, showing the troops, tanks, armaments and battlegrounds. An additional colour section reviews the weapons and uniforms of the Wehrmacht and Red Army soldiers.
A History 1891–1991
Orlando Figes gives a new perspective on revolutionary Russia, presenting the Revolution in a century-long cycle. Beginning with the 1891 famine and the crisis it provoked, Figes argues for three phases of revolution: the 'Old Bolsheviks', through 1917 and up to the 1920s; Stalin's 'revolution from above', Five Year Plans and collectivization, the latter 'a catastrophe from which the country never recovered'; and finally the years from Khrushchev to 1991, in which the leadership turned its back on Stalin, but not on Leninism.
The First Three Centuries
The city founded by Peter the Great in 1703 and variously known as Sankt Peterburg, Petrograd and Leningrad has been home to some of Russia's greatest cultural figures, including Pushkin, Tchaikovsky and Nijinsky. Well known too for its physical appearance, with baroque palaces, bridges and promenades, the city nonetheless suffered depredations in the 1905 Revolution and the Nazi siege. Arthur George, who lived in St Petersburg for several years, charts the high and low points of this most European of Russian cities. Off-mint.
War in the Crimea
An Illustrated History
Improved technology and communications allowed the Crimean War to be better reported than any previous conflict, not least through the work of photographic pioneer Roger Fenton, who produced over 300 portraits of soldiers and views of the peninsula in 1855. This history presents the conflict through these groundbreaking photographs and the lithographs of artist William Simpson as well as pictures from The Illustrated London News and paintings and illustrations from Russian periodicals of the day.
Notes on the Cuff
& Other Stories
In this collection of early fiction and reportage written during the 1920s, the title story is a comical, autobiographical account of surviving hunger, typhus, civil war and bureaucracy to become a writer. Translated by Alison Rice, with an introduction by Ellendea Proffer.