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Crimea Paperback – 2 Jun 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (2 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141013508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141013503
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 219,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


This is the only book on the Crimean War anyone could need. It is lucid, well-written, alive and sensitive. Above all, it tells us why this neglected conflict and its forgotten victims deserve our remembrance (Oliver Bullough The Independent)

This is a heart-rending book ... its importance cannot be overestimated ... This book should be made compulsory reading in Russia today (Antony Beevor, author of 'Stalingrad')

A wonderful subject, on every level, and with Orlando Figes it has found the historian worthy of its width and depth (Norman Stone Standpoint)

Figes is a first class historian... [he] proves an excellent guide to the vagaries of the battlefield, the suffering of the ordinary soldiers and the way in which the war became a crucial part of late-Victorian patriotic mythology, contributing to a new ethos of muscular Christianity (Dominic Sandbrook Daily Telegraph)

Orlando Figes ... is back doing what he does best - telling us things about Russia and the world that we did not know, and proving that they are important to our understanding of the world today ... With his deep understanding of Russia and its uncomfortable opposition in the world, Figes elegantly underlines how the cold war of the Soviet era froze over fundamental fault lines that had opened up in the 19th century (Angus MacQueen The Observer)

It is a fine stirring account, expertly balancing analysis with a patchwork of quotation from a wide variety of spectators and participants, together with an impressive narrative across the vast panoramic sweep of the war ... However, the book's true originality lies in its unravelling of the Crimean War's religious origins (Mark Bostridge Financial Times)

Keenly judged, vivid history of a bloody and pointless conflict (Sunday Times Culture)

An exhaustively researched, beautifully written book (Saul David BBC History)

One of our most engaging narrative historians, Orlando Figes has produced with his latest book a rollickingly good account of a war that shocked mid-Victorian England ... intelligent and reliable history ... Figes is a stylish and compelling narrator (Lesley Chamberlain Literary Review)

An impressive piece of scholarship ... a concise portrait of the political situation of the time (Telegraph Books of the Year 2010)

A stellar historian. As ever, it mixes strong narrative pace, a grand canvas and compelling ideas about current geopolitical tensions (Tristram Hunt Observer Best Books of the Year: 2010)

A sparkling and in passages brilliant account ... it stands amply and slendidly on its own two feet (David Hearst Guardian)

A first-class historian, as his splendid new book, an epic account of the Crimean War of 1853-56, amply demonstrates (Daily Telegraph)

A model of wide-lens military history (Dan Jones The Times (Christmas books 2010))

Wonderful ... an amazing panoramic view ... I've rarely read anything like it (Claire Tomalin)

A masterful account of lost and stolen lives (Sunday Times)

Awesome ... one of the most unforgettable books I have ever read. I defy anyone to read it without weeping at its human suffering, cruelty and courage ... in this book these righteous heroes have their rightful memorial (Simon Sebag Montefiore Mail on Sunday)

About the Author

Orlando Figes is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of Peasant Russia, Civil War, A People's Tragedy, Natasha's Dance and The Whisperers. He lives in Cambridge and London. His books have been translated into over twenty languages.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully paced book. There is an excellent account of the factors leading up to the war making some sense out of the "Eastern Question". The battles are dealt with in sufficient depth but not a blow by blow narrative as is too often the case in military history. What makes the book outstanding is the focus on the ordinary soldier and particularly their suffering during the first winter in the Crimea. We get a clear picture of the awful conditions, the disease, the injuries and above all the incompetence of the commanders.There are many extracts from personal letters and they, along with the illustrations and maps, contribute greatly to the story. The book does not end with the Treaty of Paris but goes on to describe the effect that the war had on European politics during the ensuing deacdes.
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Format: Paperback
This is the first book by Figes I've read (having until now little or no interest in Russian history, or perhaps more correctly: not the time to immerse myself in the subject), but it will definitely not be the last. 'Crimea' is truly a gem. I had read The Destruction of Lord Raglan (Wordsworth Military Library) years ago, but looking back now I enjoyed 'Crimea' a lot more, and - more to the point perhaps - I think it's not just a fuller account of the Crimean War (and what came before and after) but also a more objective view.

Figes consulted a wealth of primary and secondary sources, considers the conflict from all viewpoints, gives each of the allies and opponents their due (from the commanders-in-chief to the lowliest soldier), and above writes it all down in a clear, easy and sweeping style which kept me reading on well into the night completely oblivious of the time. An unputdownable book about the defining conflict of the 19th century.
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Format: Paperback
On July 18, 1854, two British warships under the command of Captain Erasmus Ommaeny bombarded the monastery on the main island in the Solovetskie Islands in the White Sea. The monastery itself had no real military or political value, but Ommaney lacked the forces necessary to attack the main Russian base in the area at Archangel and decided that the monastery was a suitable enough target to win his men plaudits at home. After the outdated Russian batteries defending the monastery were destroyed, Ommaney demanded the surrender of the place; when this was refused he launched a second bombardment before sailing away in frustration, his bold military action having caused a total of six casualties, all among his own men.

There is no mention of Ommaney's adventure in Orlando Figes's history of the Crimean War, which is unfortunate considering how nicely it encapsulates the pointlessness that is a dominant theme of his assessment of the conflict. Its absence is also revealing, as it shows Figes's focus to be squarely on the eponymous theater of the war. There is some discussion of the combat in the Caucauses, a couple of passing mentions of fighting in the Baltic and no mention of battles anywhere else. This is also unfortunate, as it would have been interesting to see him employ the same penetrating analysis to these other overlooked theaters that he applies to the fighting in the Crimea. For his book offers a insightful reexamination of this often-overlooked conflict, one that demonstrates its underrated significance to the history of Europe in the 19th century.

Figes spends the first part of the book teasing out the complicated origins of the war.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read much on the Crimean war but little about it's causes and aftermath. This book is easy to read, brilliantly researched and I enjoyed it very much. In some respects it is rather like a mural as it paints the various players, the political and religious factions, the war itself and the social and national consequences. The use of quotations from other writers is very well done to illustrate the feelings of those times. My great grandfather and great great grandfather were at the siege of Sevastopol and I have visited the city twice. I would have liked to see some of the paintings mentioned in the book by way of illustration as I could only recall one of them, "the roll call". Well done Orlando.
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Format: Hardcover
The most important event of the nineteenth century was the Crimean War. Paradoxically, it is also the most forgotten one. However,Orlando Figes has resurrected its memory and in his new book about it he has done a superb job. This is history at its best, written by a master historian who knows how to write history which reads like a thriller.
More than 800000 men were killed in this horrible war, whose starting point was a religious motive and which ended in many changes in the European political,religious and ethnic fields. The war signified the end of the Concert of Europe. According to Figes,it is the first book to draw on many and various Russian,French,Ottoman and British sources and his command of the new, hitherto untapped sources is perfect.
The first quarter of the book serves as an introduction to the causes of the war, where Professor Figes discusses the religious factor which was the main reason for the Crimean War. He offers the reader a panoramic view about the pilgrims to the Holy Land; a description of the Russian and Turkish clashes over the Holy Land and interests in those places and an in-depth analysis of the Eastern Question.
The rest of the book,more than 400 pages, is devoted to the war itself, and it is this part where the reader will,in my view, enjoy it most. Figes' forte is in using as many perspectives as possible about the same event,thus you will be able to know what the Russian soldier,the Turkish officer,the British doctor or the French Emperor were doing what and where.
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