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In War's Dark Shadow: Russians Before the Great War Paperback – 1 Jun 1994

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Paperback, 1 Jun 1994
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Product details

  • Paperback: 573 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc; New edition edition (1 Jun. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195089537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195089530
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 4.4 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,316,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"An exemplary popular history, a work which is at once erudite, readable, and persuasive.... Lincoln's work gives a multisided portrait of the Russian people at the most critical moment of their modern history."
"Slavic Review"

"A vivid, dramatic, and authoritative account of the societal clashes and contradictions that made the revolution of 1917 inevitable.... [Lincoln] makes history not only vivid but accessible." "Chicago Tribune Bookworld"

"Lincoln has written a work of huge scope and astounding erudition." "Los Angeles Times"" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

W. Bruce Lincoln is Distinguished Research Professor of Russian History at Northern Illinois University and the author of ten books including Passage to Armageddon, Nicholas I, and the The Romanovs.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an awesome book. If you are, like me, interested in historic studies you cannot miss reading this work. This is actually a 2 volumes work by Bruce Lincoln. This book focuses on Russia's history ranging from about 1861 to the starting of the First World War of 1914. This book leads the reader through Russia difficult times at the turn of the Century, her backwardness, the crisis of the Autocracy threatened by a score of new revolutionaries seeking a new and better political system. Most important of all in my opinion is the account of the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905. A neglected conflict in history yet bloody and important nonetheless. I read this book in less than 8 days and I really couldn't stop reading it till the very last page. I must confess I really enjoyed it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provides Great Insight into the Last Years of Tsarist Russia 22 Nov. 2013
By R. A Forczyk - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Professor W. Bruce Lincoln, who passed away in 2000, wrote In War Dark Shadows to cover the period of Russian history from 1891 to 1914. As usual with Lincoln’s books, it is literate, well-written, insightful and sometimes entertaining – just about everything that a good historian should aspire to provide. When taken as a trilogy with his later Passage through Armageddon and Red Victory, In War’s Dark Shadow provides the tapestry for following Russia’s descent into chaos, revolution and civil war. Even readers familiar with Russian history should find plenty of useful information in these pages and the author excels at connecting the dots on seemingly disparate topics. Overall, a very solid work of historical writing.

The book begins with a close examination of the year 1891 and the impact of three seminal events on subsequent history: the forging of the Franco-Russian alliance, the development of the Trans-Siberian railroad and the export of Russian grain to earn foreign currency, which leads to a massive famine. These are events that typically receive little mention in standard Western-based historiography, but which Lincoln effectively demonstrates were bellweather events. The famine caused an estimated 400,000 deaths in Russia and Lincoln uses this to begin his second chapter, which examines peasant life in great detail. It is a very bleak picture indeed, with 80 percent of Russia’s population living in abject, semi-starved poverty. Lincoln points out that Russian agriculture was not transformed by technology as it was in the West, which left the peasantry little better off than they were as serfs. He then discusses the rise of the entrepreneurial class, which has striking similarities with what transpired after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Other chapters covers the development of the urban worker population in the late 1890s and the rise of right-wing, pro-regime organizations. Altogether, Professor Lincoln provides a very colorful and insightful look at how Russian demographics and economic changes shaped the coming revolution. Throughout the book, there is a sense of foreboding that events were bad and that most individuals involved knew that they were likely to get a lot worse.

The second half of the book covers the Russo-Japanese War, the Revolution of 1905 and Russia’s brief economic revival 1907-1914. On straight military subjects, such as the siege of Port Arthur or the mutiny on the battleship Potemkin, Prof. Lincoln is not always correct about certain facts, but his overall depiction of events is spot-on. As usual, Nicholas II does not come out looking very favorably and there is none of Robert K Massie’s tragic romanticism surrounding this character; Lincoln shows the Tsar not only as incompetent but also knowingly callous about loss of life and the welfare of his people. The book’s discussion of the Okhrana (Secret police) efforts to manipulate the workers and stave off revolution makes for very interesting reading. The final chapter deals with the immediate crises leading up to war in 1914 and the Tsar’s reaction to the crisis in Sarajevo. As Prof. Lincoln points out, Russia was trying to avoid war in 1914, but gave Serbia too much leeway. This book provides essential insight to English-language readers on why Russia was heading toward Revolution even before Gavrilo Princip fired his fateful shots in Sarajevo.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars nearly a five-sar book 5 July 2012
By Adam B. Ritchie Jr. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I plan to read Lincoln's two sequels to this book, Russia from 1914-1918 and Russia from 1918-1921, so I anticipate that some of the things I didn't like about this book will be ironed out. The first is somewhat trivial, namely Lincoln's penchant for language color, war's dark shadow and the like, which is facile and used over and over. I guess we have to forgive Homer's, "wine-dark sea," but let's be mean: Lincoln is not Homer. Sorry, Mary Lincoln.

The second is more serious, and that is the seemingly hagiographic character of his treatment of Russian capitalists in Chapter III and of Russian artists in Chapter X. I usually send an Amazon book which I especially like to friends of mine, and I would send this one but for Chapter X, whose description of Russian art and letters devoted to sexuality of all genres puts it beyond the pale as a gift. But more importantly the author has missed an opportunity to comment on the artistic frivolity and chatter of Russia's educated in the midst of the misery of the tens of millions of Russian agrarian workers (the Russian "peasants") and urban workers (the Russian "proletarians") who were paying for it. The parallel with our own epoch in America is all too obvious. The contrast of our own time with an earlier America is also obvious. Writers such as Upton Sinclair, Theodor Dreiser, and John Steinbeck were the conscience of the earlier America. Tolstoy must have realized the economic hammer and anvil used by Russia's educated classes against the Russian people when as an old man he seemed to renounce his great novels as not rising to the level of serious work.

One thing puzzles me about his Chapter X. How could the author write about Diaghilev and the ballet russe without mentioning the Stravinsky ballets - Firebird, Petrushka, and Rite of Spring - which were premiered by Diaghilev's company in Paris from 1910-1913?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The workers and the peasants of Russia before WWI 5 Jun. 2014
By Michael C. Shameklis - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have never read a book about Russia before WWI that dealt in such depth with the squalor and filth that the peasants and the workers lived in as "In War's Dark Shadow" has. W. Bruce Lincoln's vivid descriptions of the lives, working and living conditions of these people are truly admirable in that they have opened a door to a world basically hitherto unseen, and it is a very disturbing and shocking world indeed. I highly recommend this book to those readers interested in deepening their understanding as to how the Russian Revolution occurred, what its causes were, and the conditions present in Russian society itself at the time, not just the political points of tension that we are so familiar with. Bravo, Mr. Lincoln. A job well done!
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative!! 18 Oct. 2005
By 10catz - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am Russian so I knew quite a lot about Russian history before opening this book. The book is the best guide to Russian history of the period. Here's why:

-It is written in a wonderful language - very easy to read, yet directed towards scholars.
-History is divided into chapters that concentrate on specific subjects.
-It is full of details that other history books often lack. I was surprised to see Bruce Lincoln use original Russian words instead of finding an English equivalent for it (such as "izba," "domovoj," "dvorovoj," "lapti," etc.).
-Finally, I've not yet read a book that concentrates so much, and gives such an in-depth study, on the subjects that are usually avoided being talked about "pre-revolutionary" times (simply because they are deemed not important in the light of warfare).

With this book you will get a clear idea of what the Russian society looked like on the dawn of WWI. Bruce Lincoln actually spent several years in the Russian archives doing research (but not just for this book), so he has a first-hand knowledge on the subject.

The chapters discuss the following subjects:

Chapter 1 - 1891: The Fateful Year:
Basic overview of the situation in Russia by the year of 1891: famine, construction of trans-Siberian railway, some politics.

Chapter 2 - In the Wake of Famine:
Famine, peasants and life in the country.

Chapter 3 - Russia's New Lords:
Emancipation, new layer of society "Kuptsi" and arts and trade associated with it.

Chapter 4 - Life in the Lower Depths:
Proletariat and life in cities and towns.

Chapter 5 - The Few Who Dared:
Revolutionaries - formation of the political parties, radicals, impact on literature.

Chapter 6 - Defenders of the Old Order:
Royal Defenders - key figures that supported the old "tzar" order; their lives and activities.

Chapter 7 - "A Small Victorious War":
The Japanese War - why, when, and how. Gives the background, as well.

Chapter 8 - 1905: The Year of Turmoil:
Revolution of 1905.

Chapter 9 - "What We Want is a Great Russia!":
Government - parties, duma, people behind the law, the lawmaking process.

Chapter 10 - "The Children of Russia's Dreadful Years":
Art revolution.

Chapter 11 - The Last Days of Peace:
Political situation at the dawn of the WWI - foreign relations and repressions.

Chapter 12 - The Drums of War:
WWI and how it affected Russia and its people.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, average quality, like the purchase. 14 May 2014
By Mj - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is fine and informative, a bit work but I'm not going to complain. Overall, a good source and a good read.
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