FREE READ Red Fortress The Secret Heart of Russia's History 107

REVIEW Red Fortress. The Secret Heart of Russia's History

FREE READ Red Fortress. The Secret Heart of Russia's History 107 ↠ A magisterial richly detailed history of the Kremlin and of the centuries of Russian elites who have shaped it and been shaped by it in turnThe Kremlin is the heart of the Russian state a fortress whose blood red walls have witnessed than eight hundred years oTions Its very name is a byword for enduring power From Ivan the Terrible to Vladimir Putin generations of Russian leaders have sought to use the Kremlin to legitimize their vision of statehoodDrawing on a dazzling array of sources from hitherto unseen archives and rare collections renowned historian Catherine Merridale traces the full history of this enigmatic fortress The Kremlin has inspired innumerable myths but no invented tales could be dramatic than the operatic successions and savage betrayals. “The Kremlin is one of the most famous landmarks in the world” With this sentence Catherine Merridale opens her fascinating and in depth study of this symbolic and instantly recognisable complex of ancient and modern buildings which in so many ways is the very incarnation of the Russian state There is no reliable record of the Kremlin’s beginnings although there is a mention of a prince's residence in 1147 and traces of a 12th century wall The word Kremlin first appears in the 1300s and since then it has encapsulated Russia – in all its many transformations and permutations Part fortress part citadel part holy shrine and part secular palace it has been at Russia's heart for centuries It has been home to Russia’s rulers the site of coronations and burials the parade ground for Russia’s power and both a secular and sacred symbol of nationhood But the book is not just a study of the Kremlin but also a history of Russia from its beginnings right up to the present day a detailed history drawn from a wide variety of sources many unseen and unexplored until now and is both comprehensive and even handed in its analysis Merridale is an expert historian who knows how to make her knowledge and research accessible to the lay reader as well as thorough enough to appeal to fellow historians and the book is a treasure trove of stories about Russia’s always tumultuous past I found the book intensely interesting and informative It’s essential reading for anyone with an interest in Russia and for anyone who wants to understand this most enigmatic of countries My thanks to Netgalley for sending me the ARC

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A magisterial richly detailed history of the Kremlin and of the centuries of Russian elites who have shaped it and been shaped by it in turnThe Kremlin is the heart of the Russian state a fortress whose blood red walls have witnessed than eight hundred years of political drama and extraordinary violence It has been the seat of a priestly monarchy and a worldly church; it has served as a crossroads for diplomacy trade and espionage; it has survived earthuakes devastating fires and at least three revolu. Sometimes we gaze out over the red brick walls at pivotal moments taking shape across the vast Russian landscape; sometimes we look down upon the Moskva but most of the time we're on the inside watching buildings rise and crumble as Byzantine robes give way to red bannersNeither fish nor fowl it's easier to say what this book is not It's not a history of Russia nor a history of Moscow It's not completely a history of the Kremlin either That would entail an in depth look at the architecture of the complex from medieval times to the post Soviet restaurations The buildings mostly come into focus at the stage of construction and demolition their fragile splendor interpreted as symbols of tsarist power All this talk of marble and gold would've warranted a substantial illustration section that leaves Putin out of the picture It's easy to see why he's featured tough the Kremlin can only be a lightweight subject unless intermingled with the lineage of Russia's rulers over the past thousand years It doesn't hurt to have some prior knowledgeMerridale's own stories as a researcher make clear that the Kremlin is a place where history is an illusion a reconstructed story of the past to the Nth degree While the modern complex may seem an organic whole on display it is populated by the ghosts of palaces long demolished Visitors glimpse only a small part of what is left standing the staff holding the ornate keys to entire churches that silently turn to dust behind hidden gates Even in the 21st century the state reserves the right to control the narrative in the interest of its legimitation In this respect little has changed since before Alexander Nevsky defeated the Teutonic Knights on the ice he did not To the Byzantine splendor that defined the timeless otherness of the Russian lands to the Western eye was added the Enlighted veneer of the great Peter and Catherine as their realm was enlarged across Siberia to the Pacific coast and inched forward at the point of a bayonet on its western borders to redefine Russia as a European Great Power The Red stars planted upon the domes radiated the legitimacy of Soviet overlordship as the internationalist principle of pre revolutionary communism gave way to a centralized empire of socialist states under Russia The rallying cry of Za Rodina was briefly resurrected with Army Group Centre at the gates of Moscow and preserved in the postwar nomenclature of the Great Patriotic War And now The Soviet Union fell a generation ago the initial euphoria has waned and the geostrategic giant on feet of clay ponders its place in the world Again the mass of the Kremlin whispers “It is your destiny to be great” Have your pick at by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Catherine Merridale µ 7 FREE READ

Red Fortress The Secret Heart of Russia's HistoryThat took place within its vast compound of palaces and cathedrals Today its sumptuous golden crosses and huge electric red stars blaze side by side as the Kremlin fulfills its centuries old role linking the country's recent history to its distant past and proclaiming the eternal continuity of the Russian stateMore than an absorbing history of Russia's most famous landmark Red Fortress uses the Kremlin as a uniue lens bringing into focus the evolution of Russia's culture and the meaning of its politi. A fantastic introduction to the broad sweep of Russian history through the lens of the pretty ill treated Kremlin complex Ms Merridale's depth of research is accompanied by a great turn of phrase and the ability to keep the reader interested through a sometimes dizzying whirl of dynastic change I particularly enjoyed the coverage of the grim days of the Stalin purges and the role of the Kremlin in attempts to legitimise the post communist 'democratic' settlement Ms Merridale's attempts to demonstrate the historical flexibility of Russia and its people as a counter to perceptions of an ingrained authoritarian streak in the Russian national character is not particularly convincing however and her readable and competent overview of their history particularly the 1617th century Time of Troubles period the Civil War and the early 1990s is likely to cement the view that Russians want strong government precisely because they feel they have so much to fear from its opposite But none of this takes away from a great read that wonderfully illustrates the frenetic chaotic destructive and romantic history of this tiny area Would definitely recommend