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Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace Hardcover – 15 Apr 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 617 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books (15 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021574
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 5.2 x 23.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 352,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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

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

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

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 )

Lieven tells it with all the verve of the enthusiast and the erudition of the fine scholar he is ... The result is a balanced, informed and entirely convincing explanation of how Russia was able to defeat the Napoleonic empire. It is also a perfect marriage of scholarship and engaging narrative that fills a yawning gap in the historiography of the period, while entertaining the reader (Adam Zamoyski, Standpoint )

A lucid and detailed account (Geoffrey Hosking London Review of Books ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Winner of the 2009 Wolfson Prize for History & shortlisted for Duff Cooper Prize
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover
This book is fantastic.

It has more useful information than any book I have read on the Napoleonic period since Chandler (and I was a tenager then,so I knew nothing).

It is, in short, essential for anyone with any interest in the later part of the Napoleonic period.

It is so good I bothered to make an Amazon review for it - and I never bother with Amazon reviews.

Buy it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent step by step and year by year review about the relations of Imperial Russia with Napoleon and the campagins 1807-1814. Crystal clear narrative, with detailed explanations of the why and how of Russian (and French) strategies and actions, the highlights / lessons learned were, for me, that Russia waged victoriously many wars during these years (Turkey, Sweden...) and never accepted any French operational superiority, and that Emperor Alexander's decision of continuing "up to Paris" after the Russian campaign of 1812 galvanized -and allowed- Europe to first resist and then defeat Napoleon's ambition. I probably can better explain my opinion about this book by sharing that I have bougth four of these books and given them as gifts to friends. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The title and the cover would initially suggest that this is yet again just another book about Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1812 invasion of Russia and therefore may well be one to take a pass on. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, to take a pass on this book would probably mean you were giving up a history taken from sources not often tapped by western writers and you would also be leaving a hole in your Napoleonic literature. For Dominic Lieven, an Englishman of Russian heritage has drilled into those files, documents and archives held in Moscow & St.Petersburg and delivered a fine work that not only covers more than 1812 (1805-1814 actually) but has us entrenched on the Russian side of the fence and allows the reader to look more closely at the actions, decisions and relationships of the Russian players of the time. Not only has Lieven had to go further than the oft used western sources, but even when using Russian ones, he has had to cut through the decades of communist political changes to the history too.

The book covers many subjects, but in the main, moves along in chronological order, sometimes breaking that rule when chapters cover a broader subject. So for instance, the rebuild, reorganisation and cogent system being put in place about recruiting covers a few years span.

The book also details much of the internal politics and individual thoughts of the main Russian players. I’d say that as an administrator and planner, Bagration comes out very well. He was the one that seems to have really picked up the ball and ran with it when it came to getting the mess that was 1805 and sorting it out into a better machine by 1812. Though helped by a predecessor's work, he made good on where he picked it up.
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