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Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace Paperback – 29 Mar 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (29 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143118862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143118862
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 3.8 x 21.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 207,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Winner of the 2009 Wolfson Prize for History and shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize (various )

A compulsive page-turner ... a triumph of brilliant storytelling ... an instant classic that is an awesome, remarkable and exuberant achievement (Simon Sebag Montefiore Evening Standard )

Radically alters our assumptions about how Napoleon was beaten (Andrew Roberts Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year )

(He creates) an historic canvas that is both overwhelming and meticulous ... he inevitably touches the nerve points of modern power politics. (The Economist )

A compulsive read. This master storyteller and scholar has written an instant classic that is awesome, remarkable and exuberant. (Simon Sebag Montefiore The Scotsman )

An essential reference ... the Princess would have approved. (The Spectator )

(An) erudite, monumental piece of historial research ... it's a great tale with a clear argument, baked by an impressive array of sources and detail. (Charles Clover Financial Times )

A superbly crafted book (Alexander M. Martin TLS )

A lucid and detailed account (Geoffrey Hosking London Review of Books ) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Winner of the 2009 Wolfson Prize for History & shortlisted for Duff Cooper Prize
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Philip on 27 Feb 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is a masterpiece, a work of genius. It is noteworthy that the author Dominic Lieven seems to have found a large number of his ancestors named Lieven in his story. He writes with both astonishing passion and erudition. He obviously has a great passion and love for his subject and a novelists skill at telling it. At some points the detail is almost overwhelming but not quite. It is always an enjoyable read, with characters very fully drawn. At the same time the historical detail regarding ALL the facets of Russia's war against Napoleon are very fully described.

So, a word of warning; it is by no means a light read. It may be advisable to get a general overview of Napoleons campaign in Russia, and the subsequent Liberation of Europe, before diving into this book.

It is such a joy to read the full account of the Russian struggle in the Napoleonic wars. It is about time they were given fuller credit for their part in his downfall. Very much as the Soviet Union, for all its faults, should be given the credit that it is due for its sacrifice in bearing the brunt of the war against Hitler.

Having said all this there is one glaring fault that really lets the book down - hence 4 stars, not 5. The author goes into immense detail with his descriptions of the battles - he could probably have written a book for each one. But, and it is a huge but, he does not provide the kind of maps that would help the reader to follow the battles. By chpt 12 this ommission actuallybecomes quite burdensome. He could easily have made this work into 2 vols., and have included far more maps on the pages opposite the descrptions; nice shiny colour maps would have been perfect.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By D. Timpau on 10 Dec 2009
Format: Hardcover
Lieven's stated objective is to demolish the myth so common in Western Europe and North America, and also, surprisingly, in Russia that it was mainly the harsh weather that destroyed Napoleon's Grand Armee in Russia, and not so much the Russians themselves. He studies new and yet untapped sources and walks the battlefields to tell a story of human courage and sacrifice, of diplomacy and espionage, of pride and passion, of victory and defeat. He tells it from the point of view of the Russians to show how their ability to manage logistics, recruit and train the best cavalry of the time, and mobilize the home front turned them from potential victims of Napoleon's hunger for conquest into Europe's liberators.

Russia Against Napoleon is a history book that reads like a novel. This is Dominic Lieven at his very best. His text is rich and insightful, incredibly well researched, colourful, intellectually provocative, and at times humorous. I have just finished reading it and I see myself going back to it over and over again. It is a feast of the mind.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sebastian Palmer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Aug 2012
Format: Paperback
An excellent & very thorough book covering, as the subtitle makes clear, much more than just Napoleon's infamous 1812 adventure which, in a refreshing change to the norm, is entirely about the Russian perspective.

It's both interesting and welcome to see how much time and space Lieven devotes to pre and post 1812 material. There's extensive analysis of the diplomatic and geopolitical context, as well as Russia's preparation for what, even by 1810, was clearly inevitable, i.e. that Boney meant to attack The Great Bear. Indeed, it's not until p137 that Nap invades, and even then it's some time before the action begins, because the Russians opt for a strategy based on evading Napoleon, and thereby denying him his favoured 'blitzkrieg' style method.

Whereas Napoleon liked to strike hard and fast, fighting large decisive engagements in order to triumph quickly, Czar Alexander and many (but by no means all) of his senior generals correctly saw that denying Boney a quick campaign on his own terms, and instead wearing down and over-stretching him, might cause him to lose patience, then focus, and finally and inevitably lead him into making tactical and strategic mistakes, all of which duly happened. But it was neither smooth, easy, nor a foregone conclusion. The stakes were high the risks large and the drama massive, which is all part of why this gargantuan military affair remains so captivatingly interesting, nearly 200 years later.

As well as exhaustive coverage of the build up to the eventual outbreak of hostilities, Lieven also pursues the unfolding aftermath, in the campaigns of 1813-14, leading to the Battle of Nations at Leipzig.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Notman on 14 Oct 2010
Format: Paperback
i bought this in the states as plane reading, and absolutely loved it. Being a fan of Napoleonic War history ive read this subject several times before but always from the French or Austrian point of view- this is the first attempt to really get across the Russian view of the war, their mindset and way of doing things, and above all to take the war from the well known events of 1812 into the following years to present an overall narrative. (some of the german takes on this youd have thought the russian army parachuted in just before Leipzig so little attempt is made to show how they fought their way there). OK its NOT none biased, its very pro- Russian, but read it with one of the many books following the French army and you do get a far more rounded picture of events.
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