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War in the East: A Military History of the Russo-Turkish War 1877-78 [Illustrated] [Hardcover]

Quintin Barry
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 July 2012
When Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire in April 1877, it was the fifth time during the nineteenth century that hostilities had broken out between the two empires. On this occasion the other Great Powers had done all they could to prevent it, although public opinion in the West had been shocked by Turkey's brutal repression of the Bulgarian uprising. The war was to be fought in two distinct theatres. In Europe, as on previous occasions, the Russian objective was to cross first the Danube and then the formidable Balkan Mountains before striking for Constantinople. In Asia, over territory also contested many times before, the Russians aimed to seize Kars and then Erzerum. At first all went well for the invaders, the Turks making no serious attempt to hold the line of the Danube, while a thrust south by General Gourko succeeded in crossing the Balkans by a pass not previously considered practicable. At Plevna, however, the Russian advance stalled in the face of the determined defence of the place by the redoubtable Osman Pasha. In Asia, meanwhile, after initial success, the Russian advance was halted by defeat at Zevin. Poor strategic judgment on the part of the Turks led to their failure to take advantage of the opportunity provided by Osman, even after the Russians had suffered three bloody defeats at Plevna. Eventually, after the town was closely invested, it fell to the besiegers. In Asia, the Turks suffered a major defeat in the battle of God's Mountain, and were driven back to Erzerum, while Kars fell to a brilliant assault by the Russian forces. These defeats marked the beginning of the end for the Turks. By January 1878 the Russians were over the Balkans in force, and the last viable Turkish army was surrounded and captured at Shenovo. Armistice negotiations led to a suspension of hostilities and to the treaty of San Stefano. The other Great Powers had watched the conflict with mounting anxiety and were determined to moderate the terms of San Stefano which had imposed harsh conditions on the Ottoman Empire. This, following tortuous diplomatic negotiations, they succeeded in doing at the Congress of Berlin in July 1878. This book, the first military history of the war in English for over a century, traces the course of the campaigns, examining the many occasions on which the outcome of a battle might have gone the other way, and the performance of the combatants, both leaders and led. The book considers the extent to which the parties applied the lessons of recent wars, as well as the conclusions that could be drawn from the experience of combat with the latest weapons. It also explores the complicated motives of the Great Powers in general, and Britain in particular, in bringing about a final settlement, which postponed the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The author's detailed text is accompanied by an extensive number of black and white illustrations, an impressive colour plate section containing reproductions of paintings by artists such as Vereshchagin, plus black and white and colour battle maps. Extensive orders of battle are also provided. This is the latest title in Helion's ground-breaking series of 19th Century studies, and will again appear in hardback as a strictly limited edition printing of 1,000 copies, each individually numbered and signed by the author on a decorative title page.

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War in the East: A Military History of the Russo-Turkish War 1877-78 + Three Weeks in November. A Military History of the Swiss Civil War of 1847 + The First Schleswig-Holstein War, 1848-50
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Helion & Company Ltd; Ltd Sgd edition (15 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907677119
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907677113
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 357,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

… This book should be a real pleasure for anyone who appreciates old-school military history… a beautiful product … highly detailed and informative … often infused with lively descriptions and well thought-out discussions of military strategy … remains a must read for anyone interested in the specifically military aspects of the campaign of 1877-78 … --The Russian Review

About the Author

Quintin Barry is married and lives in Sussex. He is a solicitor, specializing in employment law. Throughout his professional career he has maintained his lifelong interest in military and naval history. This is his third work for Helion, following publication of a widely-praised two-volume study of the Franco-Prussian War 1870-71 in 2007, and a detailed account of Moltke and the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 published in 2010.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Military History 3 Sep 2012
Format:Hardcover
"War in the East" by Quintin Barry is an excellent account of the Russo-Turkish War that was fought between 1877 and 1878. The book is primary a military history and covers the campaigns in detail with some background information on the reasons why the war occurred, the diplomatic manoeuvring between the great powers, and the conclusion of the conflict with the treaty of San Stefano and then later the Congress of Berlin.

The author provides an easy to read account of the Russian strike to cross the Balkan Mountains and menace Constantinople before the Turkish forces can react and close the passes through this formidable mountain range. In the theatre across the Black Sea, in the Transcaucasus, we read about the Russian campaign to seize the Turkish fortresses at Kars and Erzerum and many other places in between.

The many battles for Plevna are covered in detail as is most other battles, sieges and movements in this conflict between the Russians, their allies and the Turks. There are numerous maps provided although they are all within one section of the book and are maps taken from the period, which at times can be hard to read, but they provide enough detail to follow the campaign.

One very pleasant surprise was the numerous colour pages within the book containing reproductions of paintings by Vereshchagin, and other artists. These were great to look at and I continually flicked back to the paintings whilst reading the book. There are also numerous black & white drawings liberally scattered throughout the narrative, which provide some great detail to the story.

The only real problem I found with this book were a number of annoying typographic errors which seems to be a common problem now publishing houses have done away with the services of editors. Overall this was an excellent military history of this mostly forgotten war and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about little known battles and wars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complete history of the mother of WWI 18 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Russo- Turkish War (1877-78) has been the fourth conflict, on the XIX century, between Russia and the Ottoman Empire (1812 , 1829, 1854-55); in all these conflicts Russia has tried to reach the warm seas (the Mediterranean Sea), and the decadent Ottoman Empire has been the perfect target.
This war built the situation in the Balkans that brought to WWI.
The book begins from the end of the third conflict (1854-55), so from the Congress of Paris, to make you understand the true reasons for the fourth one. On 1854-55 the war began, as the previous ones, with a Russian attack, but on that case France, Great Britain and the Kingdom of Sardinia intervened to help the Ottoman Empire, invading the Crimea's Peninsula ( the name Balaklava doesn't remind you something?) finally defeating Russia occupying Sevastopol.
The internal weakness of the Ottoman Empire didn't ameliorate and so Russia had just to wait some years to have again the chance to try again. The casus belli had been the uprising on 1876 of the Bulgarian population against the Turk Governement and the subsequent repression with its huge atrocities that shocked the western public opinions.
Russia said that she had to intervene to protect the Christian population against the persecutions.
It's relevant to note that the repression and the Russo-Turkish war has been the first war where the role of the war-correspondants has been decisive to change the positions of the public opinions, changing in this way even the positions of the governements, indeed the British public opinion had been so shocked by the description of the atrocities of the Turkish troops against the Bulgarian population, to give not another choice to the British Prime Minister that to declare his neutrality in the Russo-Turkish war.
Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice synthesis 16 Feb 2013
By Gary Dickson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a very good popular history of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, but I'm giving it only four stars because that's what it is, a good rehash of the more common English-language books. If a German tried to write a book on the American Civil War using only German-language sources, we would justifiably be skeptical. Yet here is Mr. Barry writing about a war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire and there does not seem to be a single Russian-language source. This is too bad, because there is a tremendous amount of Russian material on this battle, much of it online. There is a multi-volume history, an even larger compilation of contemporary military documents, a number of regimental histories, and many books by participants. So when Mr. Barry writes on page 265 that "History does not record whether there was a great deal of consideration given to alternatives to an assault on Plevna...," he should have added "in English." Luckily for us, the English-language works are pretty good, from Maurice's strategical analysis written in 1905, Lt. Greene's book written in 1879, and von Herbert's book published in 1895, to Bruce Menning's more modern work. Mr. Barry has neglected several important sources in English however, including David Rich's book on the Russian General Staff, many relevant articles in contemporary military journals that are on Google Books, and to be really thorough, important documents at the UK archives.

The book is blessed with some of the best maps in any work of history, informative drawings by newspaper artists, and some fantastic reproductions of paintings of battle scenes. Like other Helion books, the book uses very high quality paper which makes the book weigh a lot but really does justice to the maps and pictures.

The above criticisms notwithstanding, the book is a very good general history of the battle but it doesn't break any new ground. The author has done us a service by bringing a little-known war back into the public's eye (or the eye of the thousand or so of us who buy the limited-edition hard copy!).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Account of a Forgotten Conflict 14 Jan 2013
By Aussie Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"War in the East" by Quintin Barry is an excellent account of the Russo-Turkish War that was fought between 1877 and 1878. The book is primary a military history and covers the campaigns in detail with some background information on the reasons why the war occurred, the diplomatic manoeuvring between the great powers, and the conclusion of the conflict with the treaty of San Stefano and then later the Congress of Berlin.

The author provides an easy to read account of the Russian strike to cross the Balkan Mountains and menace Constantinople before the Turkish forces can react and close the passes through this formidable mountain range. In the theatre across the Black Sea, in the Transcaucasus, we read about the Russian campaign to seize the Turkish fortresses at Kars and Erzerum and many other places in between.

The many battles for Plevna are covered in detail as is most other battles, sieges and movements in this conflict between the Russians, their allies and the Turks. There are numerous maps provided although they are all within one section of the book and are maps taken from the period, which at times can be hard to read, but they provide enough detail to follow the campaign.

One very pleasant surprise was the numerous colour pages within the book containing reproductions of paintings by Vereshchagin, and other artists. These were great to look at and I continually flicked back to the paintings whilst reading the book. There are also numerous black & white drawings liberally scattered throughout the narrative, which provide some great detail to the story.

The only real problem I found with this book were a number of annoying typographic errors which seems to be a common problem now publishing houses have done away with the services of editors. Overall this was an excellent military history of this mostly forgotten war and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about little known battles and wars.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Military History as it should be written 18 Dec 2012
By jeff mcculloch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Quentin Barry's War In The East offers a detailed analysis of the Russo Turkish War of 1877. It is replete with color maps and pictures from the period, orders of battle, everything a true historian could want. The text is a bit dry at times but still offers fascinating insight. It is particularly insightful of the Balkan Campaign. This covers a neglected period seldom written about. Rupert Furneaux's Siege of Plevna, and W.E.D. Allen's Caucasian Battlefields date from the 1950's covering this topic and lack the breadth and detail of this work, though they are classics in their own right.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complete history of the mother of WWI in the Balkans. 18 May 2013
By Carrosio Roberto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Russo- Turkish War (1877-78) has been the fourth conflict, on the XIX century, between Russia and the Ottoman Empire (1812 , 1829, 1854-55); in all these conflicts Russia has tried to reach the warm seas (the Mediterranean Sea), and the decadent Ottoman Empire has been the perfect target.
It's the mother of WWI because the results of this war built the reasons for the beginning of WWI.
The book begins from the end of the third conflict (1854-55), so from the Congress of Paris, to make you understand the true reasons for the fourth one. On 1854-55 the war began, as the previous ones, with a Russian attack, but on that case France, Great Britain and the Kingdom of Sardinia intervened to help the Ottoman Empire, invading the Crimea's Peninsula ( the name Balaklava doesn't remind you something?) finally defeating Russia occupying Sevastopol.
The internal weakness of the Ottoman Empire didn't ameliorate and so Russia had just to wait some years to have again the chance to try again. The casus belli had been the uprising on 1876 of the Bulgarian population against the Turk Governement and the subsequent repression with its huge atrocities that shocked the western public opinions.
Russia said that she had to intervene to protect the Christian population against the persecutions.
It's relevant to note that the repression and the Russo-Turkish war has been the first war where the role of the war-correspondants has been decisive to change the positions of the public opinions, changing in this way even the positions of the governements, indeed the British public opinion had been so shocked by the description of the atrocities of the Turkish troops against the Bulgarian population, to give not another choice to the British Prime Minister that to declare his neutrality in the Russo-Turkish war.
The end of this war has been sure since the beginning looking at the huge amount of troops at the disposition of the tsar and at the disastrous situation of the generalship of the Ottoman Empire, instead it lasted about one year because of the Russian sense of superiority and of the poor performance of the Russian generals, but when the true Russian leaders (Todleben, Gourko, Skobelev for the European Theater of war and Lazarev for the Caucasian Theater of war) took the control of the military situation , the war suddenly ended with a Russian crushing victory.
The Congress of Berlin, where all the European powers participated, it could not change the result obtained on the battlefield , but it changed who had to receive the spoils of the war, giving so the birth to the reasons for the WWI in the Balkans.
As the books written by Quintin Barry, ( I have all of them: the first about the Italo- Austro-Prussian war on 1866, and the second about the Franco-Prussian War on 1870-71), this book brings you on all the battlefields of this war making you feel the smell of the powder with an accuracy not easy to find, with the help of a huge amount of first hand accounts, even thanks to the several war-correspondants that followed the development of this war that gave Birth to the Romanian and the Bulgarian Nations.
This book includes a lot of Orders of battle for both sides, a very detailed (but easy to read!)map for every battle and a huge amount of very beautiful paintings and drawings regarding this war.
A book that every true passionate of history must have in his bibliotheque.
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding military history 22 Jan 2013
By D. Williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I applaud this grand effort at compiling a wonderfully detailed history of an admittedly obscure but important war from eastern Europe. Rich details emerge from Barry's accounts of the major campaigns as well as small-scale skirmishes in a bloody war fought in the Caucasus and Balkans. In this regard, the author makes use of extensive accounts left by Western journalists as well as original archival sources. The book is richly illustrated with sketches (mostly produced by sketch artists from war-time journals). I feel this book has given me an understanding of the grand strategy, major personalities and political negotiations involved with this war. Of equal value, I have also developed an appreciation of the war from the common soldier's perspective. It is evident from the author's research that sources on Russia are far more accessible than records from the Ottoman Turkish side. Highly recommended.
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