Gannibal : The Moor of Petersburg
A truly amazing 18th century life restored to history - Tsar's godson and nobleman, Russian Bluebeard, engineer of genius - who began life in an African village. When Major-General Gannibal died in 1781 in his eighties, he could look back on a long and successful life. He was the godson of Peter the Great, the Empress Elizabeth had given him nobility, thousands of acres, villages of serfs. His French education and a natural gift for mathematics had led him to fame as a fireworks expert and the architect of a string of fortifications from the Arctic Circle to China. As a husband he was a provincial Bluebeard, but his descendants would include the great poet Pushkin and a bevy of British aristocrats. Yet Abram Petrovich Gannibal had been born in very different circumstances. He was a black African, perhaps from Ethiopia, perhaps from modern Chad, sold as a child into slavery. In a brilliant biography Hugh Barnes who has tracked Gannibal's footsteps across three continents restores an extraordinary life to history.
- Hardback | 320 pages
- 138 x 218 x 36mm | 498.96g
- 04 Aug 2005
- Profile Books Ltd
- London, United Kingdom
An adventure stuffed full of encounters with history - a ripping good yarn which has the merit of being entirely true. * Financial Times * A tour de force of historical research and travel writing ... A delightful, fascinating and compelling biography, filled with swashbuckling adventurers, it successfully raises Pushkin's ancestor to his rightful place as one of 18th-century Russia's most astonishing characters. -- Simon Sebag Montefiore * Sunday Times * Elegantly written ... Barnes's book takes off into gripping narrative. * New Statesman * Impressive investigative work and a lively literary imagination makes Gannibal a fascinating read. * Metro London * Brilliant, stylish, ingenious book. * Guardian * Barnes has scoured three continents for clues about his often enigmatic subject and in doing so has created a colourful portrait of an outsider who left an indelible mark on his adopted land. * BBC History * Barnes' exhaustive research and intrepidity has unearthed new evidence dispelling folklore surrounding Gannibal and in doing so has produced the first full study, one that is a fascinating, subtly written and that truly deserves a wide audience. * Irish Examiner * Barnes is a writer of subtle, powerful gifts ... Gently and with consummate patience, Barnes teases out the life of an extraordinary man from limited sources ... Barnes has travelled far and long to capture his remarkable subject. He then, fittingly, does him justice. -- Hugh MacDonald * Herald * A remarkably readable and often moving account. -- Donald Rayfield * Literary Review * Not merely the first detailed account in English of this remarkable life, but the fullest in any language. It is a fascinating read ... Barnes not only joins the ranks of those journalists able to give academics a good run for their money, but also shows himself to be a travel writer of distinction ... This biography of the Russian Othello does much to recast our understanding of 18th-century Russian life. * Economist * Barnes has dug himself up a most engaging subject. He carries his story along in an unpretentious fashion, wearing his research lightly and never failing to intrigue ... What Barnes has written is an intelligent Boy's Own story, an adventure stuffed full of encounters with history - a ripping good yarn which has the merit of being entirely true. -- James Harkin * FT Magazine * Brilliant, stylish, ingenious ... A small miracle of intellectual command and imaginative empathy. -- Peter Conrad * Observer * Barnes writes engagingly and informedly about many fields ... [he] succeeds in bringing Gannibal to life... a remarkable achievement. -- Robert Chandler * Independent * History and fiction seamlessly blend into each other ...In pursuing his elusive subject with such resourcefulness and vigour, Hugh Barnes has woven a tale of tremendous ingenuity, verve and resonance. -- Christopher Clark * Sunday Telegraph *
About Hugh Barnes
Hugh Barnes was born in London in 1963 and educated at Oxford and Cambridge universities. He covered the war in Kosovo for the Financial Times, New Statesman and Independent on Sunday, and the war in Afghanistan for the Sunday Times. He also worked in Moscow for three years as a correspondent for Agence France Presse. He has published a novel, Special Effects (Faber & Faber, 1994), and is married with two children.