Author Topic: Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith  (Read 8644 times)

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Offline Suzanne

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My review of Douglas Smith's work: a moving and well researched account of the victims of the Russian Revolution that sheds light on the broader scope of Russian history

http://www.royalhistorian.com/the-imperial-russian-book-reviews-4-former-people-the-final-days-of-the-russian-aristocracy-by-douglas-smith/

Offline Petr

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Re: Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2012, 02:25:20 PM »
Your mention of the patriotic aspects of the nobility viz., the decision of the elder Count (Sheremetev) and the Mayor (Vladimir Golitsyn) not to leave Russia is an aspect of that class that is often over looked, dismissed or denigrated. In my family's case my Great Grandfather sold all his extensive European holdings on the eve of WWI to buy Russian War bonds and refused to leave Russia after the Revolution dying in Moscow of starvation during the cold winter of 1920.  Thankfully, his son chose to flee with his family. This patriotism had a terrible result, made especially more bitter because it was mocked and unappreciated by the "victors". And yet, as a result of the extermination of this entire class, Russia paid a terrible price which it only now has recognized.  I've always thought that the Cuban Revolution presented a parallel insofar as it also involved aspects of class extermination but thankfully not to the same extreme.  Is class warfare, as the marxists would have it, the only solution to economic injustice? It is always terrible when humans are reduced to objects or are used to prove some sort of impersonal sociological or economic theory because inevitably humanity suffers.

Congratulations on a good review of an interesting book which is quite balanced, disclosing the bad with the good. I'm told that some of the living members of both families are unhappy with the product.     
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Offline Prospector

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Re: Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2012, 12:28:54 PM »
Dear Petr,

I am the author of Former People. I showed my book in ms to many members of the Sheremetev and Golitsyn families and only one person was unhappy and asked that I remove all citations of the documents she lent me. Since it's been published, I've had nothing but compliments and thanks from the family members in the US, England, Europe, and Russia.

If you know of individuals who are "unhappy with the product," I be curious to learn what they found disagreeable and who, in fact, they are.

Thank you.

Offline Petr

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Re: Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2012, 03:00:26 PM »
Dear Mr. Smith;

I would like to correct publically any critical impression my comment may have made. It was based on a comment I received from one individual and, at best, should be considered hearsay which does not merit further discussion. To the extent I may have merely repeated gossip I apologize. As I think I have stated elsewhere in this Forum I found your book fascinating, worthwhile and a good read. Accordingly, I am the last person to discourage anyone from buying your book which I highly recommend.

I will send you a PM.

Regards,
Petr 
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Offline Prospector

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Re: Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2012, 04:40:48 PM »
Dear Peter (if I may),

Thank you for your clarification about the comments made about my book, Former People. I have only heard good things from the family members I know. The Cheremeteff family in DC threw a large book party for me and Katya Galitzine, executive director of the UK Friends of the Hermitage in London, invited me to speak at the Pushkin House there.

Of course, not everyone will agree with all my interpretations. I know some descendants of the nobles who left Russia may have a more favorable view of life under the Tsars and of the actions and attitudes of the nobility than what I write. I set out, as in all my books, to be as honest and fair and unbiased as possible. I am a historian, not a hagiographer. The reviews in the US and UK have been very favorable; if there has been any criticism, it is that I write too positively about my noble subjects, not that I am too critical of them.

Regardless, I am very flattered to receive your praise for my book and am glad to know you are enjoying it. Please do recommend it to your friends!

Sincerely, Douglas Smith 

Offline amelia

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Re: Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2012, 09:24:43 PM »
Mr. Smith,

I really enjoyed your book - there were so many aspects about these two families that I did not know, and certainly I did not know that some of them stayed behind in Russia after the revolution.  I heard that one memmer of the Galitzine family, a young woman lives in Russia now, although she was born in the West. Do you know anything about this?

Thank you
Eva

Offline rudy3

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Re: Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2012, 04:14:21 AM »
A nice interview with Mr Douglas Smith broadcasted by CBS news is online here:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50133326n

Offline Laura Mabee

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Re: Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2012, 08:49:12 AM »
A nice interview with Mr Douglas Smith broadcasted by CBS news is online here:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50133326n
This was brilliant! Thank you Rudy! This interview sold me on the book.

Mr. Smith, I really enjoyed hearing you talk about your work. It really makes it stand out amongst others that I would have purchased this Christmas.

Man, in a perfect world, it would be awesome if we could get an author to do a interview about their book when it launches! It's like the equivalent of a movie trailer before I see a movie. : D

Offline Prospector

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Re: Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2012, 12:07:14 PM »
Thank you for the kind words about my book. I do hope you buy it!
And you can see my book trailer by visiting my site: http://www.douglassmith.info

Offline Prospector

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Re: Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2012, 12:10:20 PM »
Dear Eva,

Thank you for writing and I'm so glad you liked the book. Yes, you are correct: an English woman, descended on one side of her family from the Princes Golitsyn, did marry a Golitsyn in Moscow and now lives there with him and their children. She and her husband, who are lovely people, gave me a lot of help with my book.

All the best, Doug

Offline bricesch

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Re: Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2012, 08:05:37 PM »
I liked the online interview, and I like the book.   So many things fascinate me, like how powerful Bolsheviks would wind up on the wrong end of a firing squad, to be replaced by more Bolsheviks would end up on the wrong end of a firing squad.....

Amazing how anyone could survive through all of that.

Offline Kitt

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Re: Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2012, 09:38:49 AM »
I have this book on my Nook. It is an extraordinary work.  Read along side of Orlando
Figg's works gives me as much of an idea of what life might have been like as I could find now.  A fine book
All the best, Kitt

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2013, 06:53:53 PM »
For those of you who live near DC:

Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith
Thursday 7 March 6:00pm - 8:00pm — TICKETS AVAILABLE
$20, $10 Member, $7 Student

In his new book, author Douglas Smith follows two elite families as they struggle to adapt from the glittering wealth of Imperial Russia to the new, hostile order of the Soviet Union.  As The Dallas News says, “This is a story of a mass experience told through individual perspectives. ... The pattern of their fate is so clearly drawn that their individual stories work as highlights and illuminations.”

After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the lives of aristocrats fell from unimaginable splendor to squalor and exile. Epic in scope, and precise in detail, Former People, is full of chilling tales of looted palaces and burned estates, imprisonment, exile and execution of the Sheremetevs and the Golitsyns.  Thoroughly researched and highly detailed, Smith chronicles overwhelming suffering as two families survive searches, arrests, exile, imprisonment, execution and desecration of graves.  Historical events are included to shed light on the existence of his characters.  As Kirkus said in a starred review, “He portrays with brutal clarity the truth of Orwell’s Animal Farm: A new aristocracy—a political one—emerged to enjoy the benefits of living on the labor of others.”

Tour Hillwood's mansions and new special exhibition from 6-7 pm.

The lecture will begin at 7 pm in the Visitor Center Theater.

Douglas Smith is an awarding-winning historian and translator and the author of four books on Russia. He studied German and Russian at the University of Vermont and has a doctorate in history from UCLA. Over the past twenty-five years Smith has made many trips to Russia. In the 1980s, he was a Russian-speaking guide on the U. S. State Department’s exhibition “Information USA” that traveled throughout the USSR. He has worked as a Soviet affairs analyst at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich, Germany specializing in Russian nationalism and served as an interpreter for late President Reagan.

Smith has taught and lectured widely in the United States, Britain, and Europe and has appeared in documentaries for A&E and National Geographic. He is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including a Fulbright scholarship and a residency at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Study Center.  He last spoke at Hillwood in November 2008.
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Offline Petr

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Re: Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy by Douglas Smith
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2013, 01:20:52 PM »
Take a look at the following recent interview with Douglas Smith. Highly informative.

 http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=3031302&file=1
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Offline Annette

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Really interesting book, highly recommended.  I wasn't always following who was related to whom but this in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the book.  Mr Smith is to be congratulated.