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The Crimean Warby Orlando Figes
Synopses & Reviews
From "the great storyteller of modern Russian historians" (Financial Times) comes the definitive account of the forgotten war that shaped the modern age.
The Charge of the Light Brigade, Florence Nightingale—these are the enduring icons of the Crimean War. Less well-known is that this savage war (1853-1856) killed almost a million soldiers and countless civilians; that it enmeshed four great empires—the British, French, Turkish, and Russian—in a battle over religion as well as territory; that it fixed the fault lines between Russia and the West; that it set in motion the conflicts that would dominate the century to come.
In this masterly history, Orlando Figes reconstructs the first full conflagration of modernity, a global industrialized struggle fought with unusual ferocity and incompetence. Drawing on untapped Russian and Ottoman as well as European sources, Figes vividly depicts the world at war, from the palaces of St. Petersburg to the holy sites of Jerusalem; from the young Tolstoy reporting in Sevastopol to Tsar Nicolas, haunted by dreams of religious salvation; from the ordinary soldiers and nurses on the battlefields to the women and children in towns under siege..
Original, magisterial, alive with voices of the time, The Crimean War is a historical tour de force whose depiction of ethnic cleansing and the West's relations with the Muslim world resonates with contemporary overtones. At once a rigorous, original study and a sweeping, panoramic narrative, The Crimean War is the definitive account of the war that mapped the terrain for today's world.
"All most people know of the Crimean War is the charge of the Light Brigade, but this war was both global and modern, insists noted historian and University of London professor Figes (The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia) in his magnificent account. It was fought with industrial technology, railways, and steamships; 750,000 soldiers and uncounted numbers of civilians died. After an 1853 religious dispute with Ottoman leaders, Russian armies invaded a disputed area in present-day Romania. Longstanding anti-Russian anger in both Britain and Turkey boiled over into war. French opinion was less enthusiastic, but Napoleon III yearned for military glory. Although Russia soon retreated, Britain's cabinet wanted to inflict serious damage. The result was the massive 1854 British-French Crimean invasion. But the armies dawdled, resulting in a costly siege, bloody battles, and 18 months of legendary heroism and incompetence ending in a treaty that only temporarily restrained Russian advances and the Ottoman Empire's decline. Using French, Russian, and Ottoman as well as British sources, Figes has written a lucid, thoroughly satisfying, definitive history. 16 pages of b&w photos; 19 b&w photos throughout; maps. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
Orlando Figes is the author of The Whisperers, Natasha's Dance, and A People's Tragedy, which have been translated into more than twenty languages. The recipient of the Wolfson History Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, among others, Figes is a professor of history at Birkbeck College, University of London.
Table of Contents
List of Plates ix
List of Illustrations xiii
Note on Dates and Proper Names xiv
1. Religious Wars 1
2. Eastern Questions 23
3. The Russian Menace 61
4. The End of Peace in Europe 100
5. Phoney War 130
6. First Blood to the Turks 165
7. Alma 200
8. Sevastopol in the Autumn 230
9. Generals January and February 278
10. Cannon Fodder 324
11. The Fall of Sevastopol 373
12. Paris and the New Order 411
Epilogue: The Crimean War in Myth and Memory 467
Select Bibliography 533
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