Alexander I: The Tsar Who Defeated Napoleon
© NIU Press
Description: Alexander I was a ruler with high aspirations for the people of Russia. Cosseted as a young grand duke by Catherine the Great, he ascended to the throne in 1801 after the brutal assassination of his father. In this biography, Marie-Pierre Rey illuminates the complex forces that shaped Alexander's tumultuous reign and sheds new light on the ruler known to his people as “the Sphinx.”
Despite an early and ambitious commitment to sweeping political reforms, Alexander saw his liberal aspirations overwhelmed by civil unrest in his own country and by costly confrontations with Napoleon, which culminated in the French invasion of Russia and the burning of Moscow in 1812. Eventually, Alexander turned back Napoleon's forces and entered Paris a victor two years later, but by then he had already grown weary of military glory. As the years passed, the tsar who defeated Napoleon would become increasingly preoccupied with his own spiritual salvation, an obsession that led him to pursue a rapprochement between the Orthodox and Roman Churches.
When in exile, Napoleon once remarked of his Russian rival: “He could go far. If I die here, he will be my true heir in Europe.” It was not to be. Napoleon died on Saint Helena and Alexander succumbed to typhus four years later at the age of forty-eight. But in this portrait, Rey breathes new life into the tsar who stood at the center of the political chessboard of early nineteenth-century Europe, a key figure at the heart of diplomacy, war, and international intrigue during that region's most tumultuous years.
Place and publisher: Chicago: NIU
Date of publication: 2012
Number of pages: 504
This week’s book(s):
Description: From the publishers:
"George Frederick 'Fred' Dallas wrote 137 letters to his family and friends while on active service in the Crimea. A company commander in the 46th Foot, his first letters reflect a soldier's enthusiasm for the ‘brilliant affair' that awaits the British Army overseas. Within weeks of arriving, excitement turns to disbelief at the continual misjudgment of his leaders. Poor preparation and divided command exposed the troops to surprise attacks from ‘The Russe', and to the appalling conditions of the Crimean winter. By contrast, Dallas' reports on the casual bravery of his comrades recognize the true heroes of a mismanaged campaign.
Through these letters we relive the terrible perils of combat and siege warfare: the author's almost miraculous escape from serious injury, whilst continually witnessing his comrades' slaughter; the monotony of being entrenched in Sebastopol; the ‘utter confusion' surrounding instructions to attack; the mistakes at Inkermann and the Redan; the wearying cold. We also get an insight into the quieter moments in camp and the friendships forged between the men.
Supplemented by the editor's excellent footnotes and detailed biographical index, this is a revealing and intimate history of all those involved in the Crimean War".
Place and publisher: London, Frontline Books
Date of publication: 2015
Number of pages: 256
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