Author Topic: Tales of Imperial Russia by Francis W. Wcislo  (Read 1706 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Petr

  • Graf
  • ***
  • Posts: 287
    • View Profile
Tales of Imperial Russia by Francis W. Wcislo
« on: June 07, 2011, 02:36:05 PM »
Just finished reading Tales of Imperial Russia by Francis W. Wcislo which was just published in 2011 by Oxford University Press. It is a very interesting biography of Count Ser. Iu. Witte based upon his lengthy memoirs. What makes it a little different than normal biographies is that rather than simply recounting Witte's life the author places it in the context of various developments in Russia in the last quarter of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th. The scholarship appears extensive (Wicislo is a Professor at Vanderbilt Univerity).

Witte is regarded with suspicion in certain quarters as a manipulating, social climbing arch bureaucrat but this book clearly illustrates that he may have received a lot of unwarranted bad press. I believe his judgements regarding AIII and NII were substantially correct and he does raise the point (which I share) that were AIII to have lived longer Russia would not have gotten involved in the Russo Japanese War (with the resulting troubles of 1905)and possibly WWI which would have given Russia the opportunity to complete its industrialization and fend off the Revolution. All in all a good read.

Petr

       
Rumpo non plecto

Offline Sergei Witte

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 131
    • View Profile
Re: Tales of Imperial Russia by Francis W. Wcislo
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2011, 06:06:54 AM »
Petr,

I absolutely agree with you. On this forum Witte was even depicted as an enemy of the royal family. But if there was only one strong supporter of autocracy, it was Witte. I recall from his memories that he proudly remembers how he was on a visit in France, he was complemented with the building of the Trans Siberian railway and that such a vast undertaking would have been imposslble in a democracy as France because it would take years before the decisionmaking would have been completed. The proudness in this remark proves that Witte was a true supporter of autocracy.

And indeed: if AIII only lived longer.....

Offline Petr

  • Graf
  • ***
  • Posts: 287
    • View Profile
Re: Tales of Imperial Russia by Francis W. Wcislo
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2011, 05:59:24 PM »
I await with great anticipation Margarita Nelipa's biography of AIII. I think there is a lot of room for historical revision (and correction) of his record and the man himself.  I must say that western historians being deprived for so many years of access to primary materials rergarding Russian history often fell into the trap laid for them by Soviet historians and others of like persuasion who cast the late 19th Century and early twentieth centuries in a univesally dismal light. That he had faukts no one can deny (his anti-semitism principal among them but then again it was a view widely held by not only the upper classes but the masses in gerneral which is not to excuse it).  But as Margarits has pointed out (and proved to my satisfaction) the accusation that he was a drunk is false (despite Figues assertions to th contrary). So on and so on. 

Petr
Rumpo non plecto