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The Russian Album

Overview

Winner of the Royal Society of Literature Award

In The Russian Album, Michael Ignatieff chronicles five generations of his Russian family, beginning in 1815. Drawing on family diaries, on the contemplation of intriguing photographs in an old family album, and on stories passed down from father to son, he comes to terms with the meaning of his family's memories and histories. Focusing on his grandparents, Count Paul Ignatieff and Princess ...

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The Russian Album

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Overview

Winner of the Royal Society of Literature Award

In The Russian Album, Michael Ignatieff chronicles five generations of his Russian family, beginning in 1815. Drawing on family diaries, on the contemplation of intriguing photographs in an old family album, and on stories passed down from father to son, he comes to terms with the meaning of his family's memories and histories. Focusing on his grandparents, Count Paul Ignatieff and Princess Natasha Mestchersky, he recreates their lives before, during, and after the Russian Revolution.

A fascinating portrait of turn-of-the-century Russia emerges from an historian's account of his ancestors' lives.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A vividly fascinating account by a gifted writer who sweeps back the curtain from the past, revealing it full of color and life."—Suzanne Massie, The New York Times Book Review

"A rich story of a cultivated elite bound to a disintegrating autocracy."—Walter Goodman, The New York Times

"The Russian Album is a poignant family memoir, a fitting close to Russian life before the 'red curtain of the revolution.'"—Elena Brunet, Los Angeles Times

"A vivid, fascinating account by a gifted writer who sweeps back the curtain from the past, revealing it full of color and life."—New York Times

"Spellbinding...a family history, focusing on the author's grandparents who fled with their young sons from the Russian Revolution . . . But this is more than a family memoir. It's a meditation on rootlessness and belonging, and on the ambivalent feelings we all have about the lost past and about our forbears. Not to be missed."—Victoria Glendinning, Vogue

"An exemplary Russian performance."—Bruce Chatwin

"The Russian Album is a work of such evocative power that the story of one family will speak volumes to many."—Maclean's

"The Russian Album is a joy to read. Every sentence seems heartfelt. And the book as a whole is likely to captivate all who are interested in the question of roots."—Cleveland Plain Dealer

"This beautifully written book . . . is about tenderness, courage, and a sublime life-force."—The Observer (London)

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As minister of education, Count Paul Ignatieff, the author's grandfather, resigned out of disgust from Czar Nicholas II's cabinet. A liberal, he tried to preserve statesmanlike traditions, but an increasingly reactionary regime stifled him. With the 1917 revolution he went into exile. While his wife Natasha cared for their five sons in England, then in Canada, the count immersed himself in White Russian emigre politics in Paris. The couple's reunion is one of the touching moments in this family history. The author, an expatriate Canadian living in London, combed family memoirs and made two trips to the Soviet Union to track down material on four generations of his aristocratic ancestors. He is not proud of his great-grandfather Nikolai, an imperial ambassador who persecuted Jews and plotted against the Ottoman Empire, yet he hides nothing. His painfully honest search for roots leads him to the realization, ``You make yourself with your own hands, here and now.'' (August 10)
Library Journal
Though thoroughly Anglicized, the author poignantly recaptures the lives of his paternal grandparents, Count Paul and Countess Natalie Ignatieff. The family had been prominent in Russia for generations; Paul served as Nicholas II's last minister of education, thus commanding a center-stage vantage point at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. The fate of the Ignatieffstheir terrible suffering and uprootednessserves as an effective symbol of those shattering times. Through skillful use of diaries, photos, heirlooms, and history Ignatieff recaptures the essence of old Russia and shows how the fate of families and nations intertwine and how both endure. Highly recommended. Mark R. Yerburgh, Trinity Coll . Lib., Burlington, Vt.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312281830
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 6/1/2001
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 730,280
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Ignatieff is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books, among other publications, and the author of many acclaimed books, including Blood and Belonging, Isaiah Berlin, Virtual War, The Warrior's Honor, The Needs of Strangers, and The Russian Album. He lives in London and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

CONTENTS1. THE BROKEN PATH 1

2. MOTHER AND DAUGHTER 21

3. FATHER AND SON 40

4. PAUL AND NATASHA 66

5. PETROGRAD 86

6. REVOLUTION 108

7. THE CAUCASUS 120

8. SAVAGE LANDS AFAR 144

9. THE LITTLE FOOLS 166

AFTERWORD 187

INDEX 207

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2002

    A Must Read!

    This book recreates his family's history in Russia up to the Revolution in great detail. Michael Ignatieff's travels into the past and retells his family's stories in Russia and in exile after the fall of Nicholas II. He translates his relatives Paul and Natasha Ignatieff's memiors and puts them into his own words to explain his family's past.

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