The Crimean War A History

Orlando Figes




Trade Paperback

608 Pages



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A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

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..


Praise for The Crimean War

"A huge success . . . In The Crimean War Orlando Figes restores the conflict—which predated the American Civil War by eight years—as 'a major turning point' in European and Middle Eastern history . . . Figes artfully uses painstaking archival work to expose the secret machinations of statesmen, but he never overlooks the awful human costs—The Crimean War remains alarmingly relevant."—Gary J. Bass, The New York Times Book Review
"Important and impressive . . . it is freshly informed by Russian sources, of which [Figes] is a master. . . . [The Crimean War] admirably narrates the saga in its international and religious setting."—Max Hastings, The New York Review of Books
"Engrossing . . . In a book densely packed with incident, Figes highlights the influence of the press and the brutal casualties that the war produced . . . Could make a hardened war correspondent's blood run cold."—The New Yorker
"Meticulously researched . . . Comprehensive and compelling . . . Using a startling array of sources, from government records, news articles, and memoirs, to the letters of barely-literate soldiers, Figes deftly balances political, military, and social history . . . The chapters on the war itself are as gripping as an adventure novel . . . The Crimean War is an evisceration of war, a celebration of scholarship."—The Boston Globe
“A complex tale, told vividly by Figes.”—The Economist
“A wonderful subject, on every level, and with Orlando Figes it has found the historian worthy of its width and depth.”—Norman Stone, Standpoint (UK)
“Figes’ new work will remind readers of his gifts, keen judgment and mastery of sources.”—Max Hastings, The Sunday Times (London)
“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.”—Oliver Bullough, The Independent
“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.”—Dominic Sandbrook, The Daily Telegraph (UK)
“A fine, stirring account, expertly balancing analysis . . . with an impressive narrative across the vast panoramic sweep of the war.”—Mark Bostridge, Financial Times (UK)
“Excellent . . . I could not help but marvel at the many parallels with the present.”—Anne Applebaum, The Spectator
“A stellar historian. As ever, Figes mixes strong narrative pace, a grand canvas and compelling ideas about current geopolitical tensions."—Tristram Hunt, The Observer
"Entertains as well as enlightens . . . With its account of combat in the Balkans and conflict in Iran, Afghanistan and Jerusalem, [The Crimean War] makes the modern reader blink with recognition."—Angus Macqueen, The Guardian (UK)
"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 Reviews (starred review)
"A lucid, thoroughly satisfying, definitive history."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Narrated in fearsomely vivid detail and with analytical precision . . . Figes restores historical significance and human suffering to the conflict."—Booklist

In the Press

THE CRIMEAN WAR by Orlando FigesKirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of THE CRIMEAN WAR A History. Quick: What was the Crimean War about?

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The Crimean War
1Religious WarsFor weeks the pilgrims had been coming to Jerusalem for the Easter festival. They came from every corner of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, from Egypt, Syria, Armenia, Anatolia, the Greek peninsula, but most of all from Russia, travelling by sea to the port of Jaffa where they hired camels or donkeys. By Good Friday, on 10 April 1846, there were 20,000 pilgrims in Jerusalem. They rented any dwelling they could find or slept in family groups beneath the stars. To pay for their long journey nearly all of them had brought some merchandise, a handmade crucifix
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  • Orlando Figes

  • Orlando Figes is the author of The Crimean War: A History, The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia, Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia, and A People's Tragedy, which have been translated into more than twenty languages. The recipient of the Wolfson History Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award, among others, Figes is a professor of history at Birkbeck College, University of London.

  • Orlando Figes
    Orlando Figes