The Crimean War: Book summary and reviews of The Crimean War by Orlando Figes

The Crimean War

A History

by Orlando Figes

The Crimean War

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Book Summary

The Charge of the Light Brigade, Florence Nightingale—these are the enduring icons of the Crimean War. Less well-known is that this savage war (1853-1856) killed almost a million soldiers and countless civilians; that it enmeshed four great empires—the British, French, Turkish, and Russian—in a battle over religion as well as territory; that it fixed the fault lines between Russia and the West; that it set in motion the conflicts that would dominate the century to come.

In this masterly history, Orlando Figes reconstructs the first full conflagration of modernity, a global industrialized struggle fought with unusual ferocity and incompetence. Drawing on untapped Russian and Ottoman as well as European sources, Figes vividly depicts the world at war, from the palaces of St. Petersburg to the holy sites of Jerusalem; from the young Tolstoy reporting in Sevastopol to Tsar Nicolas, haunted by dreams of religious salvation; from the ordinary soldiers and nurses on the battlefields to the women and children in towns under siege..

Original, magisterial, alive with voices of the time, The Crimean War is a historical tour de force whose depiction of ethnic cleansing and the West's relations with the Muslim world resonates with contemporary overtones. At once a rigorous, original study and a sweeping, panoramic narrative, The Crimean War is the definitive account of the war that mapped the terrain for today's world..

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. 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

"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." - The Sunday Times (UK)

"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." - The Independent (UK)

"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." - The Daily Telegraph (UK)

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

"Excellent... I could not help but marvel at the many parallels with the present." - The Spectator (UK)

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

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

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Author Information

Orlando Figes Author Biography

Orlando Figes is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. Born in London in 1959, he graduated with a Double-Starred First from Cambridge University. He is the author of many books on Russian history, including A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891-1924, which in 1997 received the Wolfson Prize, the NCR Book Award, the W.H. Smith Literary Award, the Longman/History Today Book Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia (2002) was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize.

His books have been translated into more than twenty languages. He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.

Link to Orlando Figes's Website

Name Pronunciation
Orlando Figes: FY-jeez

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