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Messages - Lee_Hutch

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Books about the Romanovs and Imperial Russia / Former People
« on: February 19, 2017, 03:56:32 PM »
I can't believe I missed Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy when it came out, but I've just finished reading it. I found it very, very interesting. Naturally, given the subject, arrests, gulags, and executions play an important role. But what struck me the most was the sheer endurance and perseverance showed by many of those detailed in the book. It is tragic, but at the same time it speaks to the human ability to fight through adversity.

While I read it, part of me wanted to reach through the pages of time and shake the people and yell "Just get out!" But if I'm honest with myself, I don't think I'd flee my own country either. Russia was their home and many made the decision to try and ride out the storm, often at the cost of their lives and certainly of their fortunes.


You are correct. Ultimately, regardless of how much a person likes him, the Romanov reign ended with him. If a historian sets out in 30 years to write a new biography and that historian is sympathetic to NII though, he/she might seek to lay the blame for the collapse on anyone but NII. In reverse, if the historian has a grudge against monarchy on principal, then he/she might try to argue that everything was entirely NII's fault.

This is where the bias comes into play. Now let me jump out on a huge limb: Imagine Russia decides to restore the monarchy (which I don't think they ever will). In that case, historians writing in Russia in 2057 under the monarchy might be more inclined to be sympathetic and gloss over faults and failures. That's all I meant by society shaping biases.

And I agree with your assessment of Nicholas' rule. Far from being the best of the Romanovs in that regard.

Funny story about the Russo-Japanese War. I was born in Louisiana but I grew up in Port Arthur, TX. I remember seeing a picture in a history book when I was 7 years old about the fall of Port Arthur to the Japanese. I ran and asked my dad why in the heck the Russians and the Japanese were fighting over Port Arthur! It was hardly worth fighting a war over. My dad explained that it was a different one than where we lived. But it kind of freaked me out for a minute.

Maria Nicholaievna / Re: Maria Started My Interest
« on: February 18, 2017, 06:26:09 PM »
Given Russia's heightened visibility over the past couple of years and controversies swirling around Putin and the possible influence on the 2016 Presidebtial campaign I'd think it wise for young people to learn as much about Russian history and culture as possible...Good luck to you with that.

1877 is an interesting cut off point. I assume it has something to do with Reconstruction ending?

Precisely! That's why they go with 1877 as the cutoff.

Thanks. I'm arguing that a resurgent Russia is why a Russian History course would be popular. Better to learn the history so that you have a context to go with news stories, etc. We'll see. It'll happen, but it may be a couple of years. The longer serving faculty will have first crack at their own course first, which is fine. It just gives me more time to design my own.

Media is biased. So are historians.

This is true. Each new generation of historians brings their own biases to the table, often shaped by the nature of society at the time of their study. While some freely admit their biases, others take care to pronounce they aren't biased in the least, and sometimes those who proclaim no biases are often the most biased.

The effectiveness or ineffectiveness of NII might be viewed one way now, in 2017, and in a completely different way in 2057. Of course, NII is dead. Nothing he did or didn't do will change. But the way historians interpret it will, and that interpretation will be informed by their own personal biases.


Maria Nicholaievna / Re: Maria Started My Interest
« on: February 18, 2017, 04:37:17 PM »
I teach both US History surveys (US to and since 1877) and also both halves of Western Civilization (to and from 1660). The college only offers one other history class, Texas History, but I dodge teaching it by claiming ignorance since I was born in Louisiana! We are putting together an elective history course though which will be thematic (a different subject each semester). I'm pushing for a Russian History survey course, but we'll see. 

Maria Nicholaievna / Maria Started My Interest
« on: February 18, 2017, 03:44:54 PM »
I was 12 or 13 years old when I first saw the news that the grave of all but two of the Romanovs had been discovered. On one of the news stories, they flashed pictures on the screen of each of the Tsar's children. For some reason, I found myself drawn towards the photo of Maria. I have no idea why, exactly, but she seemed to reach out to me more than any of the others. Having grown up during the tail end of the Cold War, I had very little knowledge of Russia other than what they told us in school. But it sparked an interest which continues to this day. Suddenly, I wanted to learn as much about Russian History and the Romanov Family as I could. I ended up getting a history degree followed by a graduate degree in history. I even learned Russian (though I can read it better than I can speak it).

I never intended on teaching. I just wanted the degrees to further my own knowledge. Instead, I was a police officer. A few years ago, I was injured on the job and pensioned out. But because I paid attention to a news story decades ago, I had a degree I could put to use. Now I teach history at a community college.

Though it may sound strange, I credit Maria Nikolaevna for that. I feel, well, grateful to her in a way. She sparked my interest in history and sent me down a path that I'm still following. I do not consider myself an expert on Russia, the Romanovs, or much of anything, really. But to this day I still feel myself drawn more towards her than the others. I guess we all have that moment where we became interested with this subject, and that's mine.   


Rasputin / Re: New Biography of Rasputin out in November
« on: December 09, 2016, 12:27:14 PM »
I just finished the book a few days ago. Not in print, but rather the Audibook version which comes in at a tad over 33 hours as memory serves me. I found it quite good. So much so that I listened to the entire thing over a span of three days.  I'm not much of a book reviewer, so all I can say is that I enjoyed it, as evidenced by the 11 hours a day I spent listening to it!


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