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The Bloody White Baron Paperback – 5 Mar 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (5 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571230245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571230242
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 299,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

The Bloody White Baron by James Plamer tells the astonishing lost story of the insane mystic who conquered Mongolia in 1920 and tried to lead a cavalry army against the Bolsheviks in Moscow.

About the Author

James Palmer was born in 1981, lives in Beijing and has travelled extensively in East and Central Asia. This is his first book. He brings to it a knowledge of comparative religion as well as a deep fascination with the cultures and history of China and Mongolia.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Duducu on 23 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you think that history goes back about 5,000 years you realise pretty quickly that the vast amount of people who were famous in their time almost always fade away to obscurity. I like reading books about these people as they are usually fascinating tales of major players long forgotten. The problem with these characters is quite often the written sources are meagre and almost invariably their early lives are shrouded by mystery. Consequently these books tend to start vague and get better as they go along.

This book falls exactly into this category and this natural problem is then compounded by just 2 maps to show the life of man who travelled around the vast expanses of the Russian and Mongolian steppes and despite there being numerous photos of him, his contemporaries and the locations mentioned there are no pictures save the covers. This is not good enough, it's virtually standard issue to have some pictures in the middle of a non-fiction book, if they can do it for Hawkwood, a 14th century mercenary, then they can certainly do it for a man who we know actually posed for photographs.

Grumbles over. Ungern Sternberg is a fascinating and deranged individual. The story touching on such major events as the Russo-Japanese War, World War 1, The Russian Revolution and the civil war in China, it also helps show the rise of murderous anti-semitism. As the author keeps reminding the reader many of the stories sound almost medieval but this was of the time of the motorcar and telephone! It also reminds you how awful the 1920's were for most of the world's population where innocents were savaged by roaming bandits of one side or another across Asia and as far as Poland.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By John Bridges on 15 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've been fascinated by this period of Mongolian history ever since I found a musty old copy of Ossendowski's Beasts, Men and Gods in a used bookstore years ago, so I was very happy to find a new look at those times in this book. Finding sources or historical writing on this period is difficult, at least here in the US, since Outer Mongolia almost seems to be a fictitious country in itself. Fortunately, James Palmer has travelled the East and waded through the various scraps and pieces of its history and pulled together a picture of a fascinating, if horrendous, figure who stamped his mark upon the era. Ossendowski's book, while purportedly true, reads like a pulp adventure novel, and his account of Baron Ungern certainly makes a modern reader believe that he must have been made up. Not so, of course, even though the picture that Palmer is able to put together of the man in some ways seems even more extreme. The Baron, or Bloody Baron, or Bloody Mad Baron, as he has variously been called, was all too real a person, and his insane, murderous actions were all too common during this period.

There is a perception in the modern West that Buddhism is perhaps unique amongst the world's major faiths in not lending itself to the kinds of wars and conflicts that, for example, Christianity and Islam have been such prominent players in. And while its certainly true that Buddhism has been a relatively peaceful religion, history, and certainly this history, shows how even the dharma can be turned towards violence, and how ethnic divisions, superstitions and unjust conditions can be exploited by cunning leaders to turn even the most peaceful doctrine into a permission for bloody conflict.
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By ADAM on 5 Jun. 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have always been interested in Mongolia, because of its remoteness from Europe, its inaccessibility, and its obscurity. Until recently, it was a country as impenetrable as, say, North Korea, but now that is no longer the case.

I never dreamt that I would ever treat Mongolian patients or would work with Mongolian dental assistants, but now I do.

So, when someone on Goodreads, having read my brief review of The Russian Fascists: Tragedy and Farce in Exile, 1925-1945, recommended The Bloody White Baron, I ordered it immediately.

The Baron, Ungern-Sternberg, the villainous hero of the book was born in Graz (Austria) and brought up in the now popular Estonian tourist destination Tallinn (formerly 'Reval'). His family were Baltic Germans with a heritage extending back to the German warlords who expanded the German lands eastwards in mediaeval times. He is also supposed to have had some connection with the Imperial Russian royal family. He regarded himself first and foremost as a Russian, and this accounts for his intense disappointment with the fall of the Tsar and the eventual rise of the Bolsheviks.

The Baron became a fanatic member of the White Armies opposed to the Bolsheviks, and was active militarily in the Russian Far East.

Imbued with a fascination with mysticism and also Buddhism, and also realising that the White armies were losing ground to the Bolshevik Red Army, he entered Mongolia, hoping to rouse the Mongolians and other eastern Asians such as the Buriats into reviving the conquering hordes of Genghis Khan. His plan, briefly summarised, was to overrun Russia and the West and to re-establish ther rule of the Tsar.
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