Books

A People's Tragedy

Orlando Figes

Unrivalled in scope and brimming with human drama, A People’s Tragedy is the most vivid, moving and comprehensive history of the Russian Revolution available today.

‘A modern masterpiece’ Andrew Marr

‘The most moving account of the Russian Revolution since Doctor ZhivagoIndependent

Opening with a panorama of Russian society, from the cloistered world of the Tsar to the brutal life of the peasants, A People’s Tragedy follows workers, soldiers, intellectuals and villagers as their world is consumed by revolution and then degenerates into violence and dictatorship. Drawing on vast original research, Figes conveys above all the shocking experience of the revolution for those who lived it, while providing the clearest and most cogent account of how and why it unfolded.

Illustrated with over 100 photographs and now including a new introduction that reflects on the revolution’s centennial legacy, A People’s Tragedy is a masterful and definitive record of one of the most important events in modern history.

Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991

Orlando Figes

What caused the Russian Revolution?

Did it succeed or fail?

Do we still live with its consequences?

Orlando Figes teaches history at Birkbeck, University of London and is the author of many acclaimed books on Russian history, including A People's Tragedy, which The Times Literary Supplement named as one of the '100 most influential books since the war', Natasha's Dance, The Whisperers, Crimea and Just Send Me Word. The Financial Times called him 'the greatest storyteller of modern Russian historians.'

Just Send Me Word

Orlando Figes

From Orlando Figes, international bestselling author of A People's Tragedy, Just Send Me Word is the moving true story of two young Russians whose love survived Stalin's Gulag.

Lev and Svetlana, kept apart for fourteen years by the Second World War and the Gulag, stayed true to each other and exchanged thousands of secret letters as Lev battled to survive in Stalin's camps. Using this remarkable cache of smuggled correspondence, Orlando Figes tells the tale of two incredible people who, swept along in the very worst of times, kept their devotion alive.

Orlando Figes was granted exclusive access to the thousands of letters between Lev and Sveta that form the foundation of Just Send Me Word, and he was able to interview the couple in person, then in their nineties. These real-time and largely uncensored letters form the largest cache of Gulag letters ever found.

Reviews:

'One is overcome with admiration for the kindness, bravery and generosity of people in terrible peril ... It is impossible to read without shedding tears' Simon Sebag Montefiore, Financial Times

'This powerful narrative by a distinguished historian will take its place not just in history but in literature' Robert Massie

'Electrifying, passionate, devoted, despairing, exhilarating ... a tale of hope, resilience, grit and love' The Times



'Moving ... a remarkable discovery' Max Hastings, Sunday Times

'The gulag story lacks individuals for us to sympathise with: a Primo Levi, an Anne Frank or even an Oskar Schindler. Just Send Me Word may well be the book to change that' Oliver Bullough, Independent

'Immensely touching ... [a] heartening gem of a book' Anna Reid, Literary Review

'The remarkable true story of a love affair between two Soviet citizens ... as much a literary challenge as a historical one: the book can be read as a non-fiction novel' Telegraph

'Remarkable ... Figes, selecting and then interpreting this mass of letters, makes them tell two kinds of story. The first is a uniquely detailed narrative of the gulag, of the callous, slatternly universe which consumed millions of lives ... The second is about two people determined not to lose each other' Neal Ascherson, Guardian

'A quiet, moving and memorable account of life in a totalitarian state ... The book often reads like a novel ... captivating' Evening Standard

'Orlando Figes has wrought something beautiful from dark times' Ian Thomson, Observer

'A heart-rending record of extraordinary human endurance' Kirkus Reviews

'[A] remarkable tale of love and devotion during the worst years of the USSR ... [Figes's] fine narrative pacing enhances this moving, memorable story' Publishers Weekly

About the author:

Orlando Figes is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of Peasant Russia, Civil War, A People's Tragedy, Natasha's Dance, The Whisperers and Crimea. He lives in Cambridge and London. His books have been translated into over twenty languages.

Crimea

Orlando Figes

Orlando Figes' Crimea is a powerful history of the Crimean War, the conflict that dominated the nineteenth century.

The Crimean War one of the fiercest battles in Russia's history, killing nearly a million men and completely redrawing the map of Europe. Pitting the Tsar's empire against an alliance of Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire, it was the first conflict to use photography, the telegraph and newspapers; a war over territory, from the Balkans to the Persian Gulf; a war of religion, driven by a fervent, populistbelief by the Tsar and his ministers that it was Russia's task to rule all Orthodox Christians and control the Holy Land; it was the original 'total war'.

Orlando Figes' vivid new book reinterprets this extraordinary conflict. Bringing to life ordinary soldiers in snow-filled trenches, surgeons on the battlefield and the haunted, fanatical figure of Tsar Nicholas himself, Crimea tells the human story of a tragic war.

'Lucid, well-written, alive and sensitive, it tells us why this neglected conflict and its forgotten victims deserve our remembrance' <br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Oliver Bullough, Independent

'Figes paints a vivid portrait of a bloody and pointless conflict ... he knows more about Russia than any other historian'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Max Hastings, Sunday Times

'A fine, stirring account' <br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Mark Bostridge, Financial Times

'A wonderful subject, on every level, and with Orlando Figes it has found the historian worthy of its width and depth' <br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Norman Stone, Standpoint

'Figes is a first-class historian, as his splendid new book amply demonstrates' <br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Telegraph

Orlando Figes is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of Peasant Russia, Civil War, A People's Tragedy, Natasha's Dance, The Whisperers and Just Send Me Word. His books have been translated into over twenty languages.

The Whisperers

Orlando Figes

Orlando Figes' The Whisperers is a groundbreaking account of daily life in the chaotic and paranoid atmosphere of Stalinist Russia.

Exploring the inner life of a Russia where everyone was afraid to talk and society spoke in whispers, whether to protect friends and family - or to betray them - Orlando Figes tells the story of how Russians tried to endure life under Stalin's Terror. Where a junior worker might inform on their superior to get their job; a husband to get rid of a lover; a neighbour out of petty jealousy. Where living a double life became the norm and yet, somehow, a few defied the state.

Those who shaped the political system became, very frequently, its victims. Those who were its victims were frequently quite blameless. Drawing on hundreds of family archives from across the whole spectrum of Russian society, The Whisperers recreates the sort of maze in which Russians found themselves, where an unwitting wrong turn could either destroy a family or, perversely, later save it: a society in which everyone spoke in whispers - whether to protect themselves, their families, neighbours or friends - or to inform on them.

'Wonderful ... an amazing panoramic view ... I've rarely read anything like it'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; Claire Tomalin

'Awesome ... one of the most unforgettable books I have ever read. I defy anyone to read it without weeping at its human suffering, cruelty and courage' <br />&nbsp;&nbsp; Simon Sebag Montefiore, Mail on Sunday

'This is a heart-rending book ... its importance cannot be overestimated ... This book should be made compulsory reading in Russia today'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; Antony Beevor, author Of Stalingrad

'A masterful account of lost and stolen lives'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; Sunday Times

Orlando Figes is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of Peasant Russia, Civil War, A Peoples Tragedy, Natasha's Dance and The Whisperers. He lives in Cambridge and London. His books have been translated into over twenty languages.

War And Peace

Orlando Figes (and others)

Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace is a sprawling epic covering the impact of Napoleon's disastrous invasion of Russia on five different families. This Penguin Classics edition is translated with an introduction and notes by Anthony Briggs, with an afterword by Orlando Figes, author of A People's Tragedy: Russian Revolution 1891-1924.

At a glittering society party in St Petersburg in 1805, conversations are dominated by the prospect of war. Terror swiftly engulfs the country as Napoleon's army marches on Russia, and the lives of three young people are changed forever. The stories of quixotic Pierre, cynical Andrey and impetuous Natasha interweave with a huge cast, from aristocrats and peasants to soldiers and Napoleon himself. In War and Peace, Tolstoy entwines grand themes - conflict and love, birth and death, free will and faith - with unforgettable scenes of nineteenth-century Russia, to create a magnificent epic of human life in all its imperfection and grandeur.

Anthony Briggs's superb translation combines stirring, accessible prose with fidelity to Tolstoy's original, while Orlando Figes's afterword discusses the novel's vast scope and depiction of Russian identity. This edition also contains appendices, notes, a list of prominent characters and maps.

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) was born at Yasnaya Polyana, in central Russia. After marrying Sofya Behrs in 1862, Tolstoy settled down, managing his estates and writing two of his best-known novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1878). In 1884 Tolstoy experienced a spiritual crisis, becoming an extreme moralist, rejecting the state, the church and private property. His last novel, Resurrection (1900), was written to raise money for the Doukhobor sect of Christian spiritualists.

If you enjoyed War and Peace, you might also like Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.

<p>'A masterpiece ... This new translation is excellent'<br />
&mdash; Anthony Beevor</p>

<p>'A book that you don't just read, you live'<br />
&mdash; Simon Schama</p>

Natasha's Dance

Orlando Figes

From the award-winning author of The Whisperers, Orlando Figes Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia is a dazzling history of Russia's mighty culture.

Orlando Figes' enthralling, richly evocative history has been heralded as a literary masterpiece on Russia, the lives of those who have shaped its culture, and the enduring spirit of a people.

'Wonderfully rich ... magnificent and compelling ... a delight to read'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Antony Beevor

'A tour de force by the great storyteller of modern Russian historians ... Figes mobilizes a cast of serf harems, dynasties, politburos, libertines, filmmakers, novelists, composers, poets, tsars and tyrants ... superb, flamboyant and masterful'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Simon Sebag-Montefiore, Financial Times

'Awe-inspiring ... Natasha's Dance has all the qualities of an epic tragedy'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Mail on Sunday

'It is so much fun to read that I hesitate to write too much, for fear of spoiling the pleasures and surprises of the book'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Sunday Telegraph

'Magnificent ... Figes is at his exciting best'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Guardian

'Breathtaking ... The title of this masterly history comes from War and Peace, when the aristocratic heroine, Natasha Rostova, finds herself intuitively picking up the rhythm of a peasant dance ... One of those books that, at times, makes you wonder how you have so far managed to do without it'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Independent on Sunday

'Thrilling, dizzying ... I would defy any reader not to be captivated'<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;Literary Review

Orlando Figes is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of Peasant Russia, Civil War, A People's Tragedy, Natasha's Dance, The Whisperers and Just Send Me Word. His books have been translated into over twenty languages.

Biography

Orlando Figes's books have been translated into 20 languages. They include Crimea, Just Send Me Word, Natasha's Dance, A People's TragedyThe Whisperers and Revolutionary Russia 1891-1991 . Figes is Professor of Modern History at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is Britain's foremost writer on the Soviet Union.