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The Crimean War (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 12. April 2011

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Engrossing . . . In a book densely packed with incident, Figes highlights the influence of the press and the brutal casualties that the war produced . . . Could make a hardened war correspondent's blood run cold. (The New Yorker)

Important and impressive . . . it is freshly informed by Russian sources, of which [Figes] is a master. . . . [The Crimean War] admirably narrates the saga in its international and religious setting. (Max Hastings, New York Review of Books)

Meticulously researched . . . Comprehensive and compelling . . . Using a startling array of sources, from government records, news articles, and memoirs, to the letters of barely-literate soldiers, Figes deftly balances political, military, and social history . . . The chapters on the war itself are as gripping as an adventure novel . . . The Crimean War is an evisceration of war, a celebration of scholarship. (Boston Globe)

Fascinating . . . Narrative history at its best, with patient unfolding of events unknown and forgotten--but that have consequences even today. A thoroughly impressive book. (Kirkus, starred review)

A lucid, thoroughly satisfying, definitive history. (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

Narrated in fearsomely vivid detail and with analytical precision . . . Figes restores historical significance and human suffering to the conflict. (Booklist)

A wonderful subject, on every level, and with Orlando Figes it has found the historian worthy of its width and depth. (Norman Stone, Standpoint)

Figes' new work will remind readers of his gifts, keen judgment and mastery of sources. (Max Hastings, The Sunday Times)

This is the only book on the Crimean War anyone could need. It is lucid, well-written, alive and sensitive. Above all, it tells us why this neglected conflict and its forgotten victims deserve our remembrance. (Oliver Bullough, The Independent)

Figes is a first-class historian. . . an excellent guide to the vagaries of the battlefield and the suffering of the ordinary soldiers . . . and the extent to which this was a religious war. (Dominic Sandbrook, The Daily Telegraph)

A fine, stirring account, expertly balancing analysis . . . with an impressive narrative across the vast panoramic sweep of the war. (Mark Bostridge, Financial Times)

Excellent. . . I could not help but marvel at the many parallels with the present. (Anne Applebaum, The Spectator)

A stellar historian. As ever, Figes mixes strong narrative pace, a grand canvas and compelling ideas about current geopolitical tensions. (Tristram Hunt, The Observer)

Entertains as well as enlightens… With its account of combat in the Balkans and conflict in Iran, Afghanistan and Jerusalem, [The Crimean War] makes the modern reader blink with recognition. (Angus Macqueen, The Guardian)

A complex tale, told vividly by Figes. (The Economist)

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Orlando Figes is the author of The Crimean War: A History, The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia, Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia, and A People's Tragedy, which have been translated into more than twenty languages. The recipient of the Wolfson History Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award, among others, Figes is a professor of history at Birkbeck College, University of London.

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Good with Some Defects 24. April 2011
Von R. Albin - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This book is a solid attempt to fill real void; the absence of a good overview history of the Crimean War. Figes is a specialist on 20th century Russia and equipped to delve into the Russian literature on the Crimean War. The result is a well-balanced book in which Figes attends to all the major combatants - Russia, Ottoman Turkey, France, and Britain. Another very good aspect of this book is Figes' interesting reconstruction of the origins of the war. To some extent, this is the story of the breakdown of the post-Napoleonic settlement involving the "Holy Alliance" of conservative European powers. The Crimean War grew partly out of imperial rivalry between Russia and Britain, particularly as the expanding British industrial economy became enmeshed in trade in Ottoman Turkey and Imperial Russia attempted to expand around and monopolize the Black Sea. The background is the decay of the power of the Ottoman state and the efforts of various European powers to exploit Ottoman weakness. This imperial conflict as a key factor in genesis of the war is generally known well but Figes stresses 2 additional important factors; religious conflict, and domestic politics in Britain and France.

Figes argues that religion figures in several important ways in the outbreak of the war. Religion was a major motivation for Russian policy, in large part because the pious Nicholas I felt a divine vocation to expand Orthodox Christianity. A certain amount of anti-Orthodox feeling was also an important factor in British and French politics. Ottoman Turkey, for example, allowed a limited amount of Protestant evangelism within its borders, Russia did not. French Catholic interests were also opposed to Orthodoxy. Related to these religious issues was the relative importance of public opinion in Britain and France. Popular sentiment in Britain, particularly among the relatively pious middle classes, was against Russia. In the first age of mass press, this gave war sentiment considerable impetus. In France, Napoleon III pursued an aggressive foreign policy as a way to bolster the legitimacy of his recently installed regime. War against Russia was also a way to placate conservative Catholic sentiment.

Much of the book is a well written narrative of the Crimean campaign. Figes shows well that this was not a minor war, but rather a major effort with enormous casualties among the combatants and very large effects on civilian populations around the Black Sea. These narrative sections are well done, stressing the primitive nature of the Russian military and the amateurish British war effort. Only the French army, with its long experience in North Africa, was really prepared for combat. The French and British benefited also from a significant technological innovation, the Minie ball rifle, which greatly enhanced infantry firepower. Figes is careful to point out that the Crimean campaign, while the major theater, was not only theatre of the war. There were efforts by the British and French in the Baltic, and significant combat in the Balkans and the Caucausus.

Figes is also quite good on the aftermath of the war. The breakdown of the Congress of Vienna system with the severing of ties between Austria and Russia is shown well. The re-emergence of France as a major force in European politics was one of the results of the war. The highly unsatisfactory nature of the war and the post-war settlement had major repercussions in Britain and Russia. It prompted major reforms in the Russia, including relaxation of serfdom, and contributed considerably to discrediting the role of aristocratic management of politics in Britain. One of the most interesting and important sequelae of the war was major ethnic cleansing and redistribution around the Black Sea. Prior to the war, for example, the Crimea had been populated by Tatars. During and after the war, the Crimea became a Russian dominated region.

This book, however, has some significant defects. In a book where a lot of text is devoted to military operations, the maps are sparse and not particularly good. As Figes points out, this is also the first war to be covered by good quality photography. What not more photos of the terrain on which the war was fought? Figes points out correctly that this was a major war with casualties in the hundreds of thousands, but nowhere is there any systematic presentation of casualties. A simple chart with estimates and some record of the troops committed would be very useful. The focus on the Crimea gives the impression that the Baltic and Caucausian theatres were sideshows. I suspect the brief treatment of both is somewhat misleading. The Franco-British failures in the Baltic appear to have been a significant effort and the failures had major strategic consequences. The operations in the White Sea and the Pacific were minor but are never mentioned. Figes also appears to be a bit careless about some details. His brief account of the Hungarian revolution of 1848 is misleading. I doubt that Russian muskets had an effective range of 300 yards. As shown by the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, its not correct that the Austrian were in constant retreat in the Balkans from the 1870s to the outbreak of WWI.
61 von 64 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Blows away the competition 17. April 2011
Von Tyrus07 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Before I read this book, I thought of the Crimean War as one of Queen Victoria's Little Wars...but nooooo! It was a much bigger show than I thought. This book is well written, instructive, and smart. The author is one of eminent historian Norman Stone's students, and it shows. The insights are like none that I've ever read about the Crimean War. The prose is engaging. He takes a different tack altogether from Trevor Royle's approach from a few years ago. The introduction to this book is great....especially when he urges those who "are ready for the fighting to start" to be patient for a few chapters or to skip ahead. The author tells you in the introduction very clearly what he is setting out to do, and I appreciate that. You know what you're getting into and whether or not it's worth buying the book and forging ahead. Trust me on this: It is worth the price and worth the read. Within the first twelve pages, there are forty dead bodies in The Gunfight at the Holy Sepulchre, which makes the work done by Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday pale in comparison. Professor Figes knows how to write action.
38 von 41 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
The Charge of the Light Brigade--in Context 16. April 2011
Von Steven A. Peterson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
A fine history of the nasty Crimean War. This was one of those wars that should never have happened. Neither the French nor British could quite figure out why to go to war. Russia had the deteriorating Czar Nicholas seeing possible war in religious terms. The Ottoman Empire was in decline. The dynamics, thus, were not auspicious.

Once war began, the allies (Britain, France, the Ottoman Empire, plus others as well) bruised the Russian forces at the outset. Then, a surprisingly strong stand by the Russians at Balaklava. This is the battle, of course, where history witnessed The Charge of the Light Brigade (which was actually rather successful despite the heavy losses suffered by the troops involved). The invasion force of the British eventually won and moved--with the French--toward the key city of Sevastopol. The allies moved slowly, not seeing need for dispatch. A major mistake. Time played into the Russians' hands as they fortified the city and received reinforcements. Another factor in Russia's favor was the inept British commander, Lord Raglan. He made mistake after mistake, thereby aiding the Russian cause. On the other hand, the Russian forces were afflicted with a set of poor commanders as well.

By the time the allies began their move to Sevastopol, a siege was inevitable. The Russian winter and disease devastated the besiegers--especially the British, who had frighteningly poor logistics.

Media were players in this war, one of the earlier occasions when media played a key role. Media helped fan the flames in the West in favor of war; stories about the appalling conditions facing the soldiers during the war also had an effect on the people back home. In addition, the technology of war had changed. The adoption of the minie ball made the firepower of the English and French far beyond that of the muskets of the Russians.

The war limped to its conclusion, as noted in this volume. The final chapter pulls matters together, exploring the myth and memory of the bloody Crimean War.
37 von 42 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Good, Not Excellent, Not Much New 29. Juli 2011
Von Severian - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Figes is known as a historian of Russia, and his Crimean War history focuses mainly on Russia, with much additional material on Britain and France. Other than slightly more material on Russian internal politics, this is pretty much the standard focus that most English language histories of this conflict have taken in the past, and, frankly, there is little new here. The usually neglected aspects of the Crimean War - Baltic operations and the Russo-Turkish campaigns- remain neglected here, even though the battles and sieges along the Danube and on the Asian mainland are as interesting as the Crimean peninsula operations. There are only very brief mentions as to these other areas of the conflict, and the cursory, reluctant coverage of the other spheres of battle is unimpressive.

Another problem with the book is that the actual military operations of the War itself, besides focusing on the usual restricted viewpoints seen in Western histories, only take up about a third of the text. The diplomatic build-up to the war, the diplomatic maneuverings behind the scenes, and (unusually) the cultural aspects of the remembrance of the conflict take up the other 2/3rds of the text. Though some might find this fascinating, I wished Figes would have focused more on the actual operations.

Figes, like many academic historians, with a few notable exceptions like John Keegan (in his earlier days anyway) has little feel for military affairs and his coverage of the War gives little real insight into how and why the battles and sieges developed as they did. We get lots of primary source accounts quoted from soldiers and officers as to what happened, and what their feelings about the events were, but the author devotes little time to actually synthesizing these reports so as to let us know the inner structure of the campaign or its significance in the history of warfare. The historian as transcriber is always a sign that the writer is not comfortable with analysis or explanation.

To my mind, the somewhat earlier history of the Crimean War by Trevor Royle (2000) is superior to Figges' work. Royle is a good writer, though perhaps not as elegant a stylist as Figes, but Royle has written much military history and he is quite comfortable with forming his own conclusions as to developments on the battlefield. Royle's maps are not as good as Figes' (which is a miserable state of affairs as Figges' maps are not at all very good) but Royle devotes less space to diplomatic missions and the workings of the Czar's court. Royle's account also lacks much on the Baltic or Danubian theaters, but at least he does do a better job with the Franco-British campaigns.

Figes is an excellent writer and his history of the Russian Revolution was superb, perhaps because a revolution is usually focused on things besides military operations so Figges' dilettantism seemed more appropriate there. Here, in a history of an actual war, the author seems to be operating more outside his comfort zone and so he spends a lot of time going on about diplomacy and culture. If you, the reader, want to know a little bit about the war itself and just as much about the diplomacy and culture of the period, Figes is fine. But if you want to know a lot about the war itself, read Royle for now and hope someone eventually writes another history that fully addresses all theaters and campaigns of the conflict.
18 von 20 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Incomplete 7. Mai 2012
Von Kochevnik - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
From my days as an undergrad historian major, one of the biggest backhanded complements that you could get from a professor was "well researched, needs better writing". I feel like Figes' "The Crimean War" is suffering from such a drawback.

Figes is a cultural historian of Russia, evidenced by his previous work in "A People's Tragedy" and "Natasha's Dance" (both of which I will admit I have not read). In this regard, his research is superb. We get to know Tsar Nicholas I and his mindset, and we really get to know how this war shaped Tolstoy and his writing. We even learn a lot about how the war affected Dostoevsky (who wasn't even a participant), and how the theme of the war was addressed in subsequent Russian and Soviet literature and cinema. If this book was labeled "A Russian Cultural History of the Crimean War", then it would get more stars from me - although less blockquotes would be useful (two pages of unabridged Tolstoy gets a bit much at times).

But Figes is attempting more. This book makes some big claims that it does not follow through on. It claims (especially from its UK title, "The Last Crusade") that this was primarily a religious war. Figes does provide some background on the original dispute over shrines in Palestine, and examines much religion-influenced writing on the conflict in Russia (and to a degree Britain and somewhat France as well), but he seems to believe that the claim that religion is the prime motivator in most conflicts "down to the Balkans in the 1990's" is self-obvious, when to my mind it's more lazy thinking from a British academic. For a claim that is so huge that it even influences the title of the book, he never really argues his point, and his long discussions of diplomacy before, during and after the war point strongly to great power politics, rather than religion, being the motivating factor.

Other commenters have noted his claim that the war was the first "total war", but again there is not much to back up this claim. I also would have preferred if he avoided anachronistic terms in an attempt to make the war seem "relevant" to modern readers. Was Palmerston really a "liberal internationalist"? Was Imam Shamil's lieutenant really an "Islamic fundamentalist", just because he wanted to expel all Russians from the Caucasus? Such throwaways for modern sensibilities (media inspired xenophobia leads to pointless Middle Eastern war!!) are great for the Niall Ferguson and Anne Applebaum blurbs on the back cover, but are completely not backed up with any notes or research.

Once we move away from the subject of Russian culture, Figes' research thins. We get a lot of quotations about British Russophobia, but not much deep explanation of why it proved to be so popular at the time. Very little background is given to the momentous changes occurring in British and French politics, economics and society at the time. And while Figes sees his work as an antidote to Crimean War history being the province of military history buffs, he goes too far in the other direction: very brief explanations are given to social makeup in the British military, and there is very little discussion of military organization or technology. One would never know that the first experimental ironclad "floating batteries" were used by the French in this war, for example. Whole theatres of the war get short shrift: the Caucasus and the Baltic are covered in about three pages, and nothing at all is said about events in the White Sea or Pacific.

However, the biggest fault in Figes' research is his discussion of the Ottoman Empire. Although he gets many details technically correct, he is thoroughly unfamiliar with this history. He describes the millet system as the downfall of Ottoman stability, despite the fact that it guaranteed just that for four centuries previous (it was the replacement of millet identities with nationalism that really undermined the empire). He claims that the Phanariot Greeks pined for a restored Byzantine Empire and looked to Russia for salvation, which has some basis but is overemphasized while their role as Ottoman diplomats, civil servants, and rulers in Moldavia and Wallachia is neglected. Figes never fails to point out Turkish atrocities, which undoubtedly happened, but interestingly we hear little of Russian atrocities (some mention is made of French and British raping and pillaging). Figes loves to mention rumours of Turkish troops capturing boys as slaves, but nevertheless never mentions that European slavery had been outlawed (at least on paper) several decades prior. He says that the Ottoman Muslims referred to Christian millets as "beasts", which is a flat-out wrong translation of "rayah" (meaning "flock" or subjects). He also goes to great lengths to describe Ottoman treatment of Christian subjects as "unfair", which to us it undoubtedly is, but contemporaneously not much less unfair than, say, British treatment of Catholic subjects (no mention of Ireland or the famine is made). And despite all this, very very little is said about serfdom in Russia, which is extremely odd considering that it so adversely affected Russia's ability to fight that Alexander II decided to end the system after the war. In the bibliography only one Turkish language source is mentioned, plus a couple of fifty year old histories of the Ottoman Empire and a few contemporary Western accounts. I don't mean to sound revisionist, but it seems like Figes is mostly working off of the opinions of others, rather than doing any deep or new research on the Ottoman Empire.

In summary: Figes delves deeply into some aspects of the war, and skims others. You can get a lot of diplomacy and Russian cultural history from this work, but many other topics are skimmed or skipped. I was hoping for a Crimean War version of James McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom", but this is not comparable in terms of comprehensiveness or readability.
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