Posts Tagged Russia

Book Shelf: Google Books and a lesson in history

Google is awesome.  There is no doubt.  Mainly because it has been providing free email to myself for many years and now is giving free email services for this website.  But recently I discovered yet another awesome side of it – Google Books.   Originally it dealt mostly with very old books, which were digitalised and published online – providing a new unique library.  However last year’s agreement with several writers’ associations brought expectations of yet another major improvement to the service.  Whilst it is easy to access actively sold books elsewhere (Amazon, Audible etc.), book that are under copyright but out of print can be difficult to track down except for big libraries. This is where Google Books may come in handy.

The book we talk about was published in 1864, and hence provides us with a curious lesson in history.  Don’t get turned away by the lengthy title – “English and French Neutrality and the Anglo-French Alliance in Their Relations to the United States and Russia”.  It deals with international relations in the period of the American Civil War, inter alia with the little known role Russia has played in Anglo-French-US relationship during that time.

I am yet to read the book in full, but based on the first skim through – it is a worthy piece, especially for history geeks.  The review below has been kindly provided by Dr. D – whom I hope to welcome to this website soon as a contributor.  If somewhat radical and debate-provoking – I don’t agree with some stuff below – we are always looking for a good debate!

1864 “English and French Neutrality to the US and Russia” review by Dr. D

The book presents an absolutely different view on the history of that period in comparison with what I was taught in history books (international, Soviet or Russian).  One fact is really fascinating.  In all those sources that I had chance to read before many aspects were viewed differently or even contradicting.  However, on the topic of Nicholas I, the emperor of Russia, they all say the same: he was a despot and suppressed all the liberties.  Crimean War was a disaster that showed inefficiency of his rule and so on and so on. That is what I was told in school, really.

This book is the first time when I see an opposite point of view. It seems that he was the only true reformer and he could really give hope for a better being not only to Russia but to the whole world.  His success however would eliminate the power of fake lovers of liberty, like England and France.

Unfortunately he died during the Crimean War.  If not this – it could happen that the result would be different for all of us.  The reasons for the Crimean War are shown from the new angle for me.  And I tend to incline towards the explanation in this book, which seems much more adequate in comparison with anything that I have ever read about this war.

One of the most fascinating for me was the 33rd Chapter on page 365: “Structure and working of the Russian government”. One particular fact is fascinating. Nicholas caught the Russian nobility into the debt trap in order to emancipate the serfs (end of page 376). That was a more effective way in comparison with the Manifest on the Emancipation of serfs declared by his son (Aleksandr II) in 1861. Actually this Manifest caused more trouble to both serfs and the government. The later had to borrow from international banks (and get itself into the debt trap) in order to pay to nobility for emancipation.

One might also find interesting the discussion on the role of Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church before and after the war. Its role can also be deduced from the facts in the book up to the present day.

Side note: The book was written when the history was still not corrupted by English “historians”. The corruption of the history happened later, after Lincoln and Aleksandr II were assassinated. The British (ruling nobility) involvement in these assassinations is not something that I cannot imagine. In any case, I think this book is probably the last independent view on the events of this period of time. Following the same logic it is possible to understand more clearly the reasons for the troubles of the world in the period after this book was published till today.

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