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Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlinby Catherine Merridale
Synopses & Reviews
A magisterial, richly detailed history of the Kremlin, and of the centuries of Russian elites who have shaped it—and been shaped by it in turn
The Moscow Kremlin is the heart of the Russian state, a fortress whose blood-red walls have witnessed more than eight hundred years of political drama and extraordinary violence. It has been the seat of a priestly monarchy, a worldly church and the Soviet Union; it has served as a crossroads for diplomacy, trade, and espionage; it has survived earthquakes, devastating fires, and at least three revolutions. Its very name is a byword for enduring power. From Ivan the Terrible to Vladimir Putin, generations of Russian leaders have sought to use the Kremlin to legitimize their vision of statehood.
Drawing on a dazzling array of sources from hitherto unseen archives and rare collections, renowned historian Catherine Merridale traces the full history of this enigmatic fortress. The Kremlin has inspired innumerable myths, but no invented tales could be more dramatic than the operatic successions and savage betrayals that took place within its vast compound of palaces and cathedrals. Today, its sumptuous golden crosses and huge electric red stars blaze side by side as the Kremlin fulfills its centuries-old role, linking the countrys recent history to its distant past and proclaiming the eternal continuity of the Russian state.
More than an absorbing history of Russias most famous landmark, Red Fortress uses the Kremlin as a unique lens, bringing into focus the evolution of Russias culture and the meaning of its politics.
"An established author of several Russian histories, Merridale (Ivan's War), professor at Queen Mary University of London, turns to what she considers the metaphor for much of that country's beleaguered history — that is, the Kremlin itself. Using the Kremlin as kind of historical lens, Merridale begins her story with Russia's obscure medieval origins, when a Viking tribe now known as the Rus invaded Slavic lands and began to lay the foundations of a culture and civilization with its indigenous peoples. We are then led on an extensive and meticulous journey through Russian history, which includes all the familiar giants on display — Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Lenin, Stalin — in addition to some lesser known but influential Russian dignitaries. How did each of these figures perceive Moscow's red fortress (which dates from the 15th century), and how did each use it achieve their political ends? More importantly, how have Russia's leaders taken a history that is often either 'difficult, contested, or fragmentary' and melded it to fit the pervading ideology of the day? With thorough research, including rare access into the Kremlin's dusty, permission-only archives, Merridale address these questions and many more to weave an insightful, fascinating tale. Four maps + two 8-page color inserts. Agent: Peter Robinson; Rogers, Coleridge, & White (U.K.)." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Catherine Merridale is the author of the critically acclaimed Ivans War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945, and Night of Stone: Death and Memory in Russia. A professor of contemporary history at Queen Mary University of London, she has also written for The Guardian, the Literary Review, and the London Review of Books, and contributes regularly to broadcasts on BBC radio. She lives in Oxfordshire, England.
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