Summary and book reviews of Glorious Misadventures by Owen Matthews

Glorious Misadventures

Nikolai Rezanov and the Dream of a Russian America

by Owen Matthews

Glorious Misadventures by Owen Matthews X
Glorious Misadventures by Owen Matthews
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2013, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2015, 400 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

From the glittering court of Catherine the Great to the wilds of the New World, Matthews conjures a brilliantly original portrait of one of Russia's most eccentric Empire-builders.

The Russian Empire once extended deep into America: in 1818 Russia's furthest outposts were in California and Hawaii. The dreamer behind this great Imperial vision was Nikolai Rezanov – diplomat, adventurer, courtier, millionaire and gambler. His quest to plant Russian colonies from Siberia to California led him to San Francisco, where he was captivated by Conchita, the fifteen-year-old daughter of the Spanish Governor, who embodied his dreams of both love and empire.

From the glittering court of Catherine the Great to the wilds of the New World, Matthews conjures a brilliantly original portrait of one of Russia's most eccentric Empire-builders.

Introduction

I shall never see you –
I shall never forget you.
Andrei Voznesensky, Junona i Avos

Those of depraved minds go nowadays to America solely with the aim of growing rich and then upon their return journey fritter it away in a few days, scattering like dust the riches obtained by many years of other peoples' tears. Can such desperate people respect their fellow beings? The poor [native] Americans are, to Russia's shame, sacrificed to their debauchery. Nikolai Rezanov, quoted by Hieromonk Gideon>

I first heard of Nikolai Rezanov in the summer of 1986. I was fifteen years old and visiting my mother's sister Lenina in her cluttered apartment on Frunzenskaya Embankment in Moscow. I had no inkling that I was living through the old Soviet Union's last summer, the final months of calm before the winds of change that were to scatter the old order began to blow. Mikhail Gorbachev had come to power the previous year, and was just about...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

While Glorious Misadventures isn't a fast read, it is entertaining and informative, and I can certainly recommend it to those looking for an in-depth book at late 18th century/early 19th century Russian history and exploration...continued

Full Review (947 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

Booklist
Fascinating… This epic historical account illuminates the promise and failings of a lost empire through the ambition of a single man.

Kirkus Reviews
In the early 1800s, the Russians came very close to colonizing North America. Newsweek contributing editor Matthews (Stalin's Children: Three Generations of Love, War, and Survival, 2008) introduces us to the visionary men who attempted to build a Russian Empire.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Matthews's humor, eye for detail, and voluminous knowledge of the historical context make this book a penetrating and enjoyable account of the exploration age and Russian society, from the imperial court to the wild frontier garrisons.

Author Blurb Simon Sebag Montefiore, bestselling author of Stalin: The Court of the Red Czar
A thrilling story of swashbuckling adventure and flamboyant derring-do about a neglected but intriguing episode of Russian-American history...the shambolic, often-forgotten and short-lived Russian empire in America, combining fresh research with a compelling narrative.

Author Blurb Orlando Figes, bestselling author of Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia and The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
Richly rewarding and hugely enjoyable, Glorious Misadventures is a flamboyant history of sea-faring adventures, imperial encounters, missed opportunities and lost loves which takes the reader back to that long forgotten age when the Russians and the Spanish were the masters of the wilderness between Alaska and California.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The Aleutian Islands: First Settlers

The Aleutian Islands As Glorious Misadventures shows, the vast amount of money to be made in the Aleutian Islands and western Alaska drew many adventurers and speculators, including the primary subject of the book, Nikolai Rezanov. The Aleut Region is a string of over 70 volcanic islands stretching more than 1,000 miles across the very northern part of the Pacific Ocean and forming an arc between Alaska on the east and Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula on the West (The National Parks Service has a large, clickable map). With the exception of the Commander Islands on the far western end of the chain, the territory is considered part of the U.S. state of Alaska. It was discovered by Europeans in 1741, when a Russian expedition led by Vitus Bering stumbled across ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Owen Matthews

If you liked Glorious Misadventures, try these:

  • Tip of the Iceberg jacket

    Tip of the Iceberg

    by Mark Adams

    Published 2019

    About this book

    More books by this author

    From the acclaimed, bestselling author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu, a fascinating and funny journey into Alaska, America's last frontier, retracing the historic 1899 Harriman Expedition.

  • Louisa jacket

    Louisa

    by Louisa Thomas

    Published 2017

    About this book

    An intimate portrait of Louisa Catherine Adams, the wife of John Quincy Adams, who witnessed firsthand the greatest transformations of her time.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Divide Me By Zero
    Divide Me By Zero
    by Lara Vapnyar
    Divide Me By Zero begins with an encounter between the narrator, Katya Geller, a 40-something mother...
  • Book Jacket: Mighty Justice
    Mighty Justice
    by Dovey Johnson Roundtree , Katie McCabe
    What it's about:
    Dovey Johnson Roundtree was one of two lawyers who won the landmark case "Sarah ...
  • Book Jacket: The Seine
    The Seine
    by Elaine Sciolino
    Of the 24 members who reviewed Elaine Sciolino's The Seine: The River that Made Paris for BookBrowse...
  • Book Jacket: Fireborne
    Fireborne
    by Rosaria Munda
    Inspired by classical political theory and the French Revolution, Rosaria Munda's YA debut Fireborne...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Mighty Justice
    by Dovey Johnson Roundtree & Katie McCabe

    An inspiring life story that speaks urgently to our troubled times.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Nothing to See Here
    by Kevin Wilson

    A moving and uproarious novel about a woman who finds meaning caring for two children with remarkable abilities.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Home for Erring and Outcast Girls

From the author of
Calling Me Home

An emotionally raw and resonant story of two young women connected by a home for "fallen girls," and inspired by historical events.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W G Up M C D

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.