Author Topic: A People's Tragedy by Orlando Figes  (Read 17658 times)

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Offline Lyss

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A People's Tragedy by Orlando Figes
« on: August 07, 2005, 03:29:17 AM »
Hey, I just got a book from my mom: A People's Tragedy by Orlando Figes.

I've already read Natasha's dance which I liked very much.


A People's Tragedy has won prizes, but what I'd like to know is if someone here has read it and what do you think about it?
« Last Edit: April 11, 2009, 08:53:42 PM by Alixz »
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: A people's tragedy
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2005, 09:02:26 AM »
To be brief, because I have to go (someone else in the household is demanding computer time!), the general consensus in the forum seems to be that this is a superb book and definitely "required reading."
... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

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Finelly

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Re: A people's tragedy
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2005, 12:43:15 PM »
Yup, yup, yup.

A definate must-read.

AlexP

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Re: A people's tragedy
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2005, 11:04:52 PM »
Quote
Yup, yup, yup.

A definate must-read.



Does the poster mean "a definite must-read".. ;)

It's an outstanding book.  I would recommend it to all.  The title itself is indicative..



Offline elfwine

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Re: A people's tragedy
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2005, 07:57:07 PM »
One of the best books on the revolution very detailed and highly accurate !
READ IT !


lol
Runes shall ye know and righly read staves
Very great staves.
Powerful staves.

Offline Lyss

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Re: A people's tragedy
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2005, 08:19:56 AM »
I am reading it an enjoying it. Even my professor who teaches about the cold war was delighted about it.
Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity.

rskkiya

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Re: A people's tragedy
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2005, 08:36:07 AM »
Insiteful and well written - it's a definative 'must read' for this site.

I am happy that its size didn't put you off!

rskkiya

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Re: A people's tragedy
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2005, 04:42:09 PM »
If I had to recommend only ONE (1) book on Russian History [and I should not wish to do that] it would be this one! There are many insiteful text but this is one of the best.


Offline StephenKerensky

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Re: A people's tragedy
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2005, 01:46:08 AM »
Figes dreadful book is typical of the worst sort of nonsense about the Russian people.  

He seeeks to blame them for the violence visited on them by Lenin, who said that Russians were too soft-hearted to make proper Bolsheviks.  The point is that although some of Lenin`s theorizing had its roots in nihilists like Berdayev, he is in other respects thoroughly un-Russian.  

Much better books have been Written by Christopher Read, and  Dmitri Volkogonov.  

Cheers,   StephenKerensky

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: A people's tragedy
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2005, 12:56:27 PM »
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Figes dreadful book is typical of the worst sort of nonsense about the Russian people.


Really? We must have read different books then.  

Quote
He seeeks to blame them for the violence visited on them by Lenin, who said that Russians were too soft-hearted to make proper Bolsheviks.


Can you quote a passage where it seems to you that Figes is blaming the Russian people for their own tragedy? Or do you mean that he holds the Russian people responsible for their fate as a nation? That's a little different than "blaming" them. It's more a matter of treating them as adults who made their own choices, for good or ill (as opposed to treating them like helpless children, the way the tsars and communists did). Most if not all nations have to take responsibility for their own history, why should Russia be any exception? 

Quote
The point is that although some of Lenin`s theorizing had its roots in nihilists like Berdayev, he is in other respects thoroughly un-Russian.


Berdyaev? Don't you mean Nechaev? Berdyaev was a famous Russian religious philosopher exiled by the Bolsheviks in 1922.

As for Lenin, I would say he was thoroughly Russian in his taste for extremism.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Elisabeth »
... I love my poor earth
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Offline StephenKerensky

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Re: A people's tragedy
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2005, 07:08:43 AM »
OK, you`ve got me bang to rights, as they say in the cop programmes.  Serves me right for dashing off a reply in anger.  And I apologize for not checking up on Nechayev.  There`s a very goopd book by Adam Ulam that discusses his influence in some detail.

I still haven`t time to do the job properly, and will post something more fully in the New Year. But I don`t think the Russians are any more violent than anyone else, and I don`t think they can be blamed for the way their country was governed by the tsars, any more than they can be blamed for what Lenin and Stalin did to them.  In a country where you can be shot, or sent to die in Siberia for starting political organizations, a little empathy seems to be in order.    

I also think, after all this time, it would be nice if historians could bring themelves to give up their hobby of making arrogant, glib and inaccurate remarks about Kerensky and the Provisional Government, and bolstering their position by ignoring any evidence they don`t personally like.

I note that it wasn`t long after publishing this piece of work that Figes started backpedalling, having linked himself to the Russian Boris Kolonitskii.   But his semi-retractions have so far only appeared in historical journals, as far as I know.    Generally, I find the best way to hang on to any remaining shreds of sanity  have is avoid reading what British historians and the British media have to say about the Revolution.  

Anyway, Merry Christmas.  I`m afraid the 90 year-long torrrent of insults and lies have made me a bit touchy, on behalf of those in the family who died, and those whose testimony is still being rejected in favour of the liars.

Cheers,  

StephenKerensky  

Offline Lyss

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Re: A people's tragedy
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2005, 01:36:45 AM »
I don't think it's about if the Russians were more violent or not, it's about the fuedal mentality where life is not important.
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Offline catt.sydney

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Re: A people's tragedy
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2005, 06:50:32 PM »
Lyss I agree!
    If any people are treated without respect and forced to suffer horrible indignities for centuries - is it any wonder that MANY of them might feel profound frustration and anger at their "oppressors" ?
    I don't think that EVERY SINGLE RUSSIAN hated the Tsar  - anymore than all of them loved him. Many might have been less eager for Revolutionary choices, had other options been put to them - but  in the chaotic times of the First World War and with the memories of 1905 still fresh in the minds of so many - I completely understand this behaviour.

SK - your words were too quick and not at all clever!
Best rethink your glib & facile remarks in the future.

Curiousity killed me/Satisfaction and (TRUTH)  brought me back!

Offline StephenKerensky

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Re: A people's tragedy
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2006, 11:40:00 AM »
It was not my intention to claim that Figes said the Russian people were to blame for what happened after 1917.  What I actually meant was that he claims the brutality was an expression of the Russian character, and that is substantially true.  

It is well-known that some peasants continued to love and revere the Tsar to the very end. It`s one of the things about them that made the Bolsheviks so wild with rage, and caused them to take such terrible revenge.

The peasants were certainly fatalistic,  and if anyone thinks that is a feudal characteristic, they`d  better not try telling the Hindus.  But being fatalistic does not mean you don`t value life.  The Russians were, I beleive, the first in Europe  to abolish the death penalty and their deep respect for life was one reason Bolshevism was so widely  despised in the pre-1917 revolutionary period.

As to Figes, I have it on very good authority that his book is littered with mistakes, and you only have to read what he has to say about Byelorussia to realize how misconceived the whole thing is.  

If anyone thinks that is glib, then would they please take it up with various Professors of History who reviewed the book when it came out.

Cheers, StephenKerensky

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: A people's tragedy
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2006, 12:13:25 PM »
I think Figes actually argues that the so-called "innate" Russian brutality and disregard for individual human life was only a by-product of the arbitrary and unjust brutality of the Russian state from time immemorial. In other words, he blames the violence of the Russian Revolutions on tsarist rule: one extreme form of violence created another, even more extreme, but also nevertheless still state-imposed violence.

However, I actually agree with you, uvazhaemyj Stephen Kerensky, that ordinary Russians of this same "revolutionary" generation in reality had a much stronger regard for life then one might think. To take but one example, Nadezhda Mandel'shtam recorded in her memoirs, of the Stalinist terror of the 1930s, that the peasants around Voronezh were still deeply sympathetic towards all political dissidents and prisoners, and that they went out of their way to help those who had been completely ostracized by the Soviet state, such as her husband, the great poet Osip Mandel'shtam. They immediately understood Mandel'shtam's nervous state and disability  - telling Nadezhda that everyone who came back from "there" (the interrogation cells of the Soviet secret police) was touched in the head, in other words insane or in our more modern parlance, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Suicide attempts and other desperate actions were par for the course. But Nadezhda encountered only sympathy from the peasants around the place of her husband's exile, Voronezh. This indicates to me that the Russian people in general retained, at least until the late 1930s, their innate respect for those who had provoked the disfavor of the state and were suffering the consequences.      
... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

-- Osip Mandelshtam