Former People: The Last Days of the Russian Aristocracy Hardcover – Unabridged, 25 Oct 2012
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"Absolutely gripping, brilliantly researched, with a cast of flamboyant Russian princesses and princes from the two greatest noble dynasties and brutal Soviet commissars, this is a important history book but it is really the heartbreaking human story of the splendours and death of the Russian aristocracy and the survival of its members as individuals." --Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Jerusalem, The Court of the Red Tsar and Catherine the Great and Potemkin
"Former People provides a fascinating window onto a lost generation. Filled with intimate detail, drama and pathos, this is a book as much about renewal and reinvention as about the end of an era." --Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana and A World on Fire
"The Russian aristocracy attracted fierce persecution in the Bolshevik Revolution, and yet its story has never been properly told until now. Douglas Smith's outstanding book is a vivid and well-researched account of the lives and deaths of prominent families. It is a tour de force." --Robert Service, author of Trotsky: a Biography and Spies and Commissars
"It is very refreshing to see the Bolshevik Revolution described through the eyes of a prominent group of its many victims. The Red Terror of 1918-22 lasted longer than its French counterpart of 1793-4, claimed far more innocent lives, and inflicted immeasurable physical and social damage. Douglas Smith has found a way of exploring this tragedy with empathy, and of exposing the appalling human cost." --Norman Davies, author of Europe: A History and Vanished Kingdoms
"Heartbreaking and harrowing, the till now untold story of the systematic destruction of the former Russian aristocracy under the Soviets is brought chillingly to life by Douglas Smith in this powerful and important new book."
--Helen Rappaport, author of Ekaterinburg and Magnificent Obsession
"Brilliant... Smith masterfully conveys the terrifying isolation of the nobles far flung properties in 1917 as deserting soldiers, brutalised in the First World War, returned to incite the local peasants to murderous vengeance against their landlords" --Evening Standard
"Smith's narrative is pervaded by a profound rage against the savagery with which the victors in the class struggle pursued the vanquished… The author has done well to tell this tale" --Max Hastings, Sunday Times
The last great untold story of the Russian Revolution --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The book begins in the years before the revolution, when a small educated elite were the rulers of a largely rural and feudal Russia. As the author calls them, they were "isolated islands of privilege in a sea of poverty and resentment." Many members of the nobility understood, and even sympathised, with the violence that erupted. Even members of the aristocracy who benefited from the system looked for restraint and ways to ease poverty and worried about the weakness of Tsar Nicholas II. When revolution eventually came, the aristocracy, alongside most of the population, blamed the Empress, and Rasputin, for the downfall. Count Sergei Shevemetev wrote, "the abnormal power of that woman (Alexandra) has led us precisely to that which any had foreseen." There were members of the aristocracy who welcomed the revolution and the abdication of the Tsar with relief - some who even tried to march in solidarity with the workers, but they were soon made aware that they were not welcome. Not only were they not welcome to support the revolution, they were, like it or not, enemies of it.Read more ›
When the Bolsheviks seized power in the October Revolution they declared a 'war on privilege' and legally abolished all classes of nobility. Making no distinction between 'good' or 'bad' nobles, between 1917 and 1941 they launched several successive waves of terror against anyone they considered to be "bourgeois" - including the so-called 'progressive' or left-wing nobles who had opposed Tsarism and supported reform. Publically vilified as "class enemies", "socially alien elements", "remnants of the old bourgeois world" or "former people", tens of thousands of them were killed. As the situation inside Russia began to deteriorate many "former people" managed to escape. Many more though did not. This book tells their story.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fascinating insight into how the former Russian upper classes dealt with the trauma of change to communism.Published 3 months ago by Sloopjohnb
It was a very good and interesting book and I would have given it five stars however felt some of the historical information was not correct. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Carmen L. Trankovsky
even with a full li rary on the subject, so many things you still dont know sbout..Published 6 months ago by kraknaine
I have read a few chapters of this already and it is most interesting - Russian history always isPublished 9 months ago by Cynthia Rabet
Compelling book about two actual families who lived through the Russian revolution. I wanted to put it down because it's slightly depressing, but I couldn't. Read morePublished 9 months ago by L. C. Williams
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