Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace

Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace

3.8 18
by Dominic Lieven
     
 

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The first history of the epic defeat of Napoleon's empire told from the Russian perspective.

Though much has been written about Napoleon's doomed invasion of Russia and the collapse of the French Empire that ensued, virtually all of it has been from the Western perspective. Now, taking advantage of never- before-seen documents from the Russian archives,

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Overview

The first history of the epic defeat of Napoleon's empire told from the Russian perspective.

Though much has been written about Napoleon's doomed invasion of Russia and the collapse of the French Empire that ensued, virtually all of it has been from the Western perspective. Now, taking advantage of never- before-seen documents from the Russian archives, Dominic Lieven upends much of the conventional wisdom about the events that formed the backdrop of Tolstoy's masterpiece, War and Peace. Lieven's riveting narrative sweeps readers through epic battles, tense diplomatic exchanges on which the fate of nations hung, and the rise of Russia from near-ruin to Europe's liberator. Rich in detail, Russia Against Napoleon is a groundbreaking masterwork.

Editorial Reviews

John Steele Gordon
"War," Thomas Hardy once wrote, "makes rattling good history." If you would like an example of exactly what Hardy meant, I commend Russia Against Napoleon…Mr. Lieven…does the English-speaking reader a service by telling this story from a distinctly Russian perspective, one looking west, not east…His character sketches of the main Russian players in this epic drama are sure, his depiction of Russian social, economic and military realities revelatory…This is a story of great sweep and drama, played out over the map of Europe by larger-than-life characters whose names are still familiar to us today. And Dominic Lieven, a master of the material and a fine writer, tells it rattling well.
—The New York Times
Mark Mazower
Dominic Lieven…is a distinguished scholar of the czarist empire, and in this superb book he has written his masterpiece. The story he tells—Russia's gargantuan struggle with Napoleon—will be known to most people through Tolstoy's War and Peace, and it takes a brave man to challenge the great novelist. But that indeed is Lieven's goal, and for the most persuasive of reasons. He believes that Tolstoy's account is badly misleading (Lieven has a historian's natural concern for the facts) and perhaps more important has skewed our view of Russia and contributed to our tendency to misunderstand and belittle its role in international affairs.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
Lieven, professor of history at the London School of Economics, uses Russian archives as the basis for this seminal reinterpretation of Napoleon’s defeat in 1812-1814. Russia’s leaders cleverly engaged Napoleon in a kind of drawn-out campaign the French system was least able to wage. Russia’s armies outfought Napoleon’s, thanks in good part to the “courage, endurance, and loyalty” of soldiers led by officers whose central virtues were honor and courage. Russian staffs and administrators kept the troops supplied despite the long and increasing distances between bases and theaters of operations. And coordinating the effort was Tsar Alexander II, whose “courage, skill, and intelligence”held together the final alliance against Napoleon all the way from Moscow to Paris. Lieven weaves these threads together with flair and offers insight into the specifics of everything from infantry tactics to diplomatic negotiations. He concludes that Russian and European security were mutually dependent, and that Russia’s war was seen by Europeans a one of liberation from Napoleon’s exactions and ambitions. While debatable, neither point can be dismissed. Illus., maps. (Apr. 19)
Library Journal
This is the story of Napoléon's invasion of Russia in 1812, but addressed here primarily from the Russian viewpoint. Using Russian military archives only accessible to Western researchers since 1991, Lieven (Russian history, London Sch. of Economics) studies the Russian war effort against Napoléon, most familiar to readers either through British and French historians or through Tolstoy's renditions in War and Peace. Lieven begins with the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807 and ends with the triumphant Russian entry into Paris in 1814, describing the longest military campaign in European history in an engaging narrative, without the embellishments of Tolstoy in War and Peace (Tolstoy is barely covered here, in spite of the subtitle's implication) or the usual Western prejudices. Among Lieven's points are that a certain percentage of senior officers serving in the Russian army were foreign born (mostly from the Baltic States), and that the Russian mobilization was not only extremely large but also extremely cheap, with the troops being given raw cloth and told to go and make their own uniforms. VERDICT Highly recommended for all who study this era of European and Russian history, or keep up with Napoleonic studies.—David Lee Poremba, Keiser Univ., Orlando, FL

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670021574
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/15/2010
Pages:
656
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.10(h) x 2.00(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

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