The riveting and harrowing story of the Russian nobility caught in the upheaval of the Revolution
Winner of the Pushkin House Russian Book Prize Named a Best Book of the Year by The Kansas City Star and Salon Epic in scope, precise in detail, and heartbreaking in its human drama, Former People is the first book to recount the history of the aristocracy caught up in the maelstrom of the Bolshevik Revolution and the creation of Stalin's Russia. It is the story of how a centuries-old elite, famous for its glittering wealth, its service to the tsar and empire, and its promotion of the arts and culture, was dispossessed and destroyed along with the rest of old Russia. Chronicling the fate of two great aristocratic families―the Sheremetevs and the Golitsyns―it reveals how even in the darkest depths of the terror, daily life went on.
Told with sensitivity and nuance by acclaimed historian Douglas Smith, Former People is the dramatic portrait of two of Russia's most powerful aristocratic families and a sweeping account of their homeland in violent transition.
Used Book in Good Condition
black & white illustrations, maps
black & white illustrations, maps
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Douglas Smith's engrossing history of the fate of the Russian aristocracy after 1917 focusses primarily on two families, the Golitsyns and the Sheremetevs. They lived opulent lives in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and on various country estates, taking leading roles in the Tsar's government and in the military, patronizing artists and musicians, and travelling in private rail carriages, limousines, and the earliest airplanes. This charmed world came crashing to an end in 1917, with the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II and the subsequent seizure of power by Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Many nobles fled from Russia, while others died or were murdered during the Russian Civil War and the earliest days of the Soviet Union. But many survived and remained in their motherland, hoping that the turmoil would run its course and that some sort of return to the Old Regime would occur. Instead, things went from bad to worse as Lenin was succeeded by Stalin and the nobility, now known as "former people",...
This is a valuable contribution to the study of Russian history as Douglas Smith has delved into a topic that has been largely ignored - the fate of individual noble families in post-Revolutionary Russia. In his book, Smith focuses on two of the most prominent and important families in Russian history - the Sheremetevs and the Golitsyns. Smith effectively combines general history and the experiences of individual family members during the Revolution, the Civil War and the Stalin era to create an involving and fascinating account.
It just arrived two days ago and I finished it out in two days. I was absolutely absorbed in it and could not put it down. What an incredible tragedy the revolution and its aftermath was for Russia. I had thought I would not have a great deal of sympathy for those in the nobility (and middle classes) who chose to stay behind after the Bolsheviks took over, but here in this book their stories come alive. I have to say I am embarrassed my prior ignorance. I recommend this book with five stars.
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