A major new history of the Russian conflict immortalized by Tolstoy in War and Peace
Russia's expulsion of Napoleon's Grande Armée in 1812 is considered one of the most dramatic events in European history. However, Tolstoyan myth and an imbalance of British and French interpretations have clouded most Westerners' understanding of Russia's role in the defeat of Napoleon.
Based on a fresh examination of Russian military archives, Russia Against Napoleon provides the first-ever history of the period told from the Russian perspective. In Dominic Lieven's account, Russia's victory in 1812 was just the beginning of what would be the longest military campaign in European history, marked by Russia's epic efforts to feed and supply half a million troops as they crossed an entire continent.
Moving from the 1807 treaty signed by Napoleon and Tsar Alexander I through the Russian army's improbable entry into Paris in 1814, Lieven provides suspenseful accounts of events, such as the burning of Moscow and the great battles of Leipzig and Borodino, as well as astute analyses of the great military strategists of the time. The result is a magisterial work sure to be eagerly anticipated by military and history buffs alike.
Lieven, professor of history at the London School of Economics, uses Russian archives as the basis for this seminal reinterpretation of Napoleon's defeat in 1812-1814. Russia's leaders cleverly engaged Napoleon in a kind of drawn-out campaign the French system was least able to wage. Russia's armies outfought Napoleon's, thanks in good part to the "courage, endurance, and loyalty" of soldiers led by officers whose central virtues were honor and courage. Russian staffs and administrators kept the troops supplied despite the long and increasing distances between bases and theaters of operations. And coordinating the effort was Tsar Alexander II, whose "courage, skill, and intelligence"held together the final alliance against Napoleon all the way from Moscow to Paris. Lieven weaves these threads together with flair and offers insight into the specifics of everything from infantry tactics to diplomatic negotiations. He concludes that Russian and European security were mutually dependent, and that Russia's war was seen by Europeans a one of liberation from Napoleon's exactions and ambitions. While debatable, neither point can be dismissed. Illus., maps.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Lieven's style of writing makes it extremely difficult to stay engaged with the narrative. The punctuation is lacking and further compounds the lack of a flowing narrative. While well researched and supported with documentation the reader is hindered by the author's style. If you buy this book, then be prepared for a chore.