Imatge de l'autor

Adam Zamoyski

Autor/a de Moscow 1812: Napoleon's Fatal March

22+ obres 2,825 Membres 46 Ressenyes 11 preferits

Sobre l'autor

Adam Zamoyski was born in New York, was educated at Oxford, & lives in London. His other books include biographies of Chopin & Paderewski & a history of Poland. (Bowker Author Biography)

Inclou aquests noms: A. Zamoyski, Adam Zamoyski

Crèdit de la imatge: Wyklety

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As a young (relatively) Russian, I was always perplexed by the encounters - infrequent as they were - of mutual animosity between my people and the Poles. We can understand significant amounts of each other's language (to a degree again), stem from one Slavonic family, share name pools and laying claims on inventions of v/wodka, borsch/t and kas/zha. Being and two different branches of Christianity for me is an empty sound, since I counted on some advances atheism worked on both peoples. I am a one. Anyway, I was told by both parties that "it's historical". Now I decided to see it myself.

This book...Well, the author is definitely proud of his ancestors (or namesakes?) Zamoyskys, new members of which he introduces to readers with nearly each passing century. Well, that's mildly amusing, but OK. What I definitely lacked were footnotes and references. Although in the Introduction he explains their absence as removal of unnecessary nuisance to wider audience, and claiming that there's no need for those, since all he says is a scientifically accepted and wildly acknowledged facts, I found several of his assertions if not outright questionable, then at least in need of those abrogated asterisks. Many questions he touches upon are still matters of scientific debates, let alone name calling at international football matches. To give you a taste: When counting languages used in courts of XVI century Lwow, he names quite a few, Armenian, Jewish (which of them), Ukrainian and BELORUSSIAN among others. I mean quite a lot of people wouldn't agree that Belorussian language (with all due respect) was a written language at the time (and some would deny it was fully formed at all back then). I mean I'm not protesting or denying Belorussian it's proper due, but I just want a serious corroboration for a thing served matter of factly. While it's not a trifle for a book of history.

All in all my ideal of a country's history remains The Pursuit of Italy, whose author didn't show the nation as populated mostly with valiant and noble forefathers and surrounded by mostly hapless or conniving neighbors.

P.S. My Spring trip to Poland was awesome.
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Den85 | Hi ha 2 ressenyes més | Jan 3, 2024 |
This book was brutal.

The author manages to tell the story of Napoleon's invasion of Russia in a factual but still engaging manner, both with compassion for the players but without shying away from the horror.

As he mentions in his introduction, this event still echoes in our global consciousness as the memetic mother of all bad ideas, but which few people really understand. And as he notes in our conclusion, the outcome of this campaign perhaps changed the course of world history.

I was deeply affected by the book and it will be in my mind for a long time to come.
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weemanda | Hi ha 13 ressenyes més | Nov 2, 2023 |
This is a book about a paranoia. After the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era, the powers that met in Vienna the establish the settlement of 1815 tried to turn back the clock. But the conservative governments clearly lacked confidence that they had achieved a stable solution, and in hindsight they had good reason to doubt it. Adam Zamoyski tells the story of their fears, their attempts at policing and repression, and their tendency to hypnotise themselves with lurid conspiracy theories.

It is an account that strips many of the protagonists of their dignity. Metternich emerges not as a diplomatic genius, but as an increasingly irrational statesman, constantly panicking at small incidents and derided for it by his more cool-headed colleagues. The drift into mysticism of Czar Alexander and his growing belief in his own martyrdom is described mercilessly, and his successor does not get any clemency either. Zamoyski's study of the police archives delivers a large list of ridiculous accusations and absurd conspiracies.

Zamoyski believes that the fears of conservative governments were misguided because there was no grand international conspiracy to overthrow the existing order, nor a comité directeur in Paris to lead it. But the stark reality was that they were sitting on a volcano, or, as the British government described it to Metternich, a "pressure vessel without a safety valve", they just misjudged what the threat was. A later generation of historians and theoreticians would start to think in terms of the great impersonal forces of history and the evolution of society, which would ultimately sweep away the absolute monarchies of Europe. Most of the statesmen of 1815 had not learnt to think in these terms. Confronted with the forces of nationalism, liberalism and socialism that would ultimately defeat them, they struggled to give them a face, and in doing so they often fell victim to conspiracy theories.

For the modern reader too, the lack of clear protagonists and antagonists makes the story confusing. Zamoyski describes the ebb and flow of popular opinion, the interactions of movements and counter-movements. He occasionally devotes longer sections of text to particularly important personalities (such as Metternich and Alexander), but on the whole this is the story of a society on the boil, with its bubbles, turbulence and steam. It is hard to get a clear view and some sections of the book are, in consequence, rather dull. Others are hilarious. (I'm still inclined to recommend Mike Duncan's excellent Revolutions podcast, which among its many chapters also includes sections on the revolutions of 1830, 1848, and 1871. It's really good and very entertaining.)

Ultimately, the book is somewhat lacking in theme and conclusion. Zamoyski in his own conclusions merely argues that the climate of conservative repression that beset Europe in the late 19th century was harmful. It's hard to dispute that, but still a somewhat weak conclusion about the emerging police state.
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EmmanuelGustin | Hi ha 2 ressenyes més | Jan 1, 2023 |
A competent and interesting history. Zamoyski seems to be conservative but not populist. He is perhaps unrealistic about the ancient Commonwealth as a non-ethnic state held together by ideas. This might work in America where ethnicities did not flow over to the neighbours. The typography made it difficult to distinguish between the Polish letters L and Ł.
 
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jgoodwll | Hi ha 2 ressenyes més | Aug 24, 2022 |

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ISBN
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Preferit
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