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Former People: the Destruction of the Russian Aristocracy

Former People: the Destruction of the Russian Aristocracy

Paperback

By (author) Douglas Smith

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  • Publisher: Pan Books
  • Format: Paperback | 424 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 197mm x 33mm | 450g
  • Publication date: 9 May 2013
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0330520296
  • ISBN 13: 9780330520294
  • Edition: Unabridged
  • Edition statement: Unabridged
  • Sales rank: 46,156

Product description

Epic in scope, intimate in detail, heartbreaking in its human drama, this is the first book to recount the history of the nobility caught up the maelstrom of the Bolshevik Revolution and the creation of Stalin's Russia. It is a book filled with chilling tales of looted palaces, burning estates, of desperate flights from marauding thugs and Red Army soldiers, of imprisonment, exile, and execution. It is the story of how a centuries'-old elite famous for its glittering wealth, its service to the Tsar and Empire, was dispossessed and destroyed along with the rest of old Russia. Drawing on the private archives of two great families -- the Sheremetovs and the Golitsyns -- Former People is also a story of survival, of how many of the tsarist ruling class, so-called "former people" and "class enemies," abandoned, displaced, and repressed, overcame the loss of their world and struggled to find a place for themselves and their families in the new, hostile world of the Soviet Union. It reveals how even at the darkest depths of the terror, daily life went on--men and women fell in love, children were born and educated, friends gathered, simple pleasures were cherished. Ultimately, Former People is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

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Author information

Douglas Smith is an internationally recognized expert in Russian history. He is the author of numerous articles and three critically acclaimed books, the most recent of which is The Pearl: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in Catherine the Great's Russia. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.

Review quote

"[An] excellent history . . . A sobering tale of the complexities of revolution, told with clarity and sympathy."--"The Independent" "Absorbing . . . How could one ever think that these people were monsters? They were gallant souls; and Smith's book memorialises them beautifully."--Mark Le Fanu, "Spear's" "Smith re-creates what [the Russian nobility] experienced with an intimacy that brings the whole history of these years vividly and grotesquely alive."--Robert Legvold, "Foreign Affairs" "Smith has performed a real service in drawing attention to this widely overlooked segment of the Russian population and the horrifying persecutions its members endured. His book inspires awe and pity in equal measure, and expands our understanding of a forgotten people. It's hard to believe that this it he first book of its kind devoted to the 10 percent of White Russians who remained in the society Union after the revolution and civil war and we can hope it will lead to others."--Michael Scammell, "The New York Review of Books""With urgency and precision, [Smith] chronicles the fate of the nobility from the dawn of the revolution . . . He is invested in their (former) cause, and narrates the events of their lives with passion . . . "Former People "is a thorough, extensively sourced history, and also something of a spiritual restitution."--Yelena Akhtiorskaya, "The New Republic""Although many of the aristocrats thought the end of their caste 'obvious and unavoidable, ' few foresaw the destruction of a way of life. Smith's engaging and, at times, heartbreaking account is an essential record of that loss."--"The New Yorker"""Former People" is ultimately an incredibly readable, vivid, emotional human story of survival, accommodation, and reconciliation."--Sean Guillory, "New Books Network""Engrossing . . . with richly detailed event and anecdote."--Liesl Schillinger, "The New York Times""An engaging and absorbing book."--Jennifer Siegel, "The Walle