The Foe Within: Fantasies of Treason and the End of Imperial Russia / Edition 1

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In the early morning of March 19, 1915, Lt. Colonel S. N. Miasoedov, a former gendarme officer on active duty with the Russian army in World War I, was hanged after a two-hour trial in Warsaw for treason. Although he was innocent of this charge, Miasoedov's hasty execution, set against the army's disastrous performance in the war against Germany, touched off a wave of "spy mania" that resulted in hundreds of arrests and eventually involved the highest reaches of the Russian Empire, including the minister of war, General V. A. Sukhomlinov, who was arrested for the same crime the following year.The trials of Miasoedov and Sukhomlinov and the purported revelations of elaborate networks of pro-German spies were for many Russians the principal explanation for the military catastrophes Russia had endured at Germany's hands since the beginning of World War I. This belief gradually took hold among the Russian public at large and politicians of all stripes. Today, the fact that both Miasoedov and Sukhomlinov were innocent of treason has been universally accepted, but the full story of the events leading up to their fallacious prosecutions has never before been completely revealed. As told here by William C. Fuller, Jr., it is an astonishing narrative full of vivid incident and populated by a cast of characters that includes the emperors of both Germany and Russia, Baltic noblemen, tsarist generals, courtesans, war profiteers, peasants, Jewish businessmen, tsarist ministers, German spymasters, and Rasputin. In the course of reconstructing the events he so deftly relates, Fuller explains how they crippled the Russian monarchy and paved the way for the February Revolution of 1917. The book also situates the cases against the backdrop of Russia's increasingly toxic political culture; bureaucratic politics; and popular attitudes in late imperial Russia toward capitalists, Jews, Germans, and women. The Foe Within is an unprecedented portrait of a regime so riddled with intrigue and corruption that its collapse in the face of mounting military and economic difficulty comes to seem all but inevitable.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Fuller beautifully writes a most thoroughly research soap opera noir of political intrigue, back-stabbing, bribe-taking, graft, corruption, deceit, adultery, incompetence, and the trampling of civil rights . . . . This is a solid contribution to Russian war historiography, and it would be of interest to a wide range of readers. The professional Russian historian and the military historian will take great delight in the thoroughness of the research and the beautiful, mosaic-like quality of the study's organization. Yet its jaunty writing style and the spy-novel quality of the subject recommends it to the armchair generals and history buffs as well."—Jamie H. Cockfield, American Historical Review

"This outstanding and important book fills many gaps and casts light on the hugely interesting process by which tsarism collapsed and Russia was plunged into revolution. William C. Fuller, Jr., explains Rasputin, 'Dark Forces,' and the reptilian world in which they crawled, as well as that milieu's interaction with the tsar's government. The Foe Within is worth all the other work on this subject put together. It is splendidly written and very accessible."—Dominic Lieven, London School of Economics, author of Empire: The Russian Empire and Its Rivals

"The Foe Within is a remarkable book. Through the prism of a World War I spy case it provides a rich account of the world of fin-de-siècle Russia. It reveals, better than any other study, the subterranean networks behind high politics in the last years of Imperial Russia and the divisions within Russian high society that set the stage for tsarism's collapse. William C. Fuller, Jr., clearly and expertly guides the reader through shady business dealings, the byzantine politics of the court and government, and the sordid relations of high society. This important work is a major contribution to our understanding of Russia at war as well as to understanding the causes of the Russian Revolution. This is all high drama, compellingly and clearly told."—Peter Holquist, Cornell University, author of Making War, Forging Revolution: Russia's Continuum of Crisis, 1914–1921

"Set against the backdrop of a corrupt and crumbling empire, this history of the Miasoedov/Sukhomlinov affair is both intriguing in its own right and crucial to understanding the Russian past. The book is beautifully crafted; the research is impeccable; and the story is told with unusual subtlety and erudition."—Norman M. Naimark, Stanford University, author of Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe

"William C. Fuller, Jr., has written an original, profound, and vivid book about a crucial aspect of Russian politics during World War I. The subject is 'spy-mania,' or how wartime threats to national security, real and imagined, were transformed into modes of political behavior and discourse that in turn shaped the statist ideologies and practices of successive revolutionary regimes. Fuller brings to light remarkable materials ranging from the personal to the institutional and weaves them into a story that symbolizes the destructive power of war."—Daniel Orlovsky, Southern Methodist University, author of The Limits of Reform

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801444265
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

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