The description of the fancy dress balls at Elizabethgrad Cavalry College, where he trained to become an officer with the Cossack Cavalry, is lilting and full of color. The surprisingly luxurious life of the Russian officers in the wilds of China is unfolded in wonderful detail. The description of the instant he was shot and crippled for life in the Russo-Japanese war is gripping and unforgettable.
It focuses on encounters with the "little" people such as Shick, the Jewish scribe; Kaloev, the Muslim tea salesman; Zhao, proprietor of the Fudzian stock market; and Kate, an American prostitute. However, encounters with the "great" people are not ignored. These include personal meetings with the Empress Dowager of China, with Tsar Nicolas II and even with Rasputin.
Big Trifles and Little People provides a rare opportunity to experience the "real" Russia of the early twentieth century as recalled by an astute observer of the times.