Inkwell Management
Published by
Pegasus (2021-09-07)
Current material
1st Pass Pages
Original language
Politics & government


Boris Sakinov and His Wars Against the Tsar and the Bolsheviks

by Alexandrov, Vladimir

A brilliant examination of the enigmatic Russian revolutionary about whom Winston Churchill said "few men tried more, gave more, dared more and suffered more for the Russian people," and who remains a legendary and controversial figure in his homeland today.

Although now largely forgotten outside Russia, Boris Savinkov was famous, and notorious, both at home and abroad during his lifetime, which spans the end of the Russian Empire and the establishment of the Soviet Union. A complex and conflicted individual, he was a paradoxically moral revolutionary terrorist, a scandalous novelist, a friend of epoch-defining artists like Modigliani and Diego Rivera, a government minister, a tireless fighter against Lenin and the Bolsheviks, and an advisor to Churchill. At the end of his life, Savinkov conspired to be captured by the Soviet secret police, and as the country's most prized political prisoner made headlines around the world when he claimed that he accepted the Bolshevik state. But as this book argues, this was Savinkov's final play as a gambler and he had staked his life on a secret plan to strike one last blow against the tyrannical regime.

Neither a "Red" nor a "White," Savinkov lived an epic life that challenges many popular myths about the Russian Revolution, which was arguably the most important catalyst of twentieth-century world history. All of Savinkov's efforts were directed at transforming his homeland into a uniquely democratic, humane and enlightened state. There are aspects of his violent legacy that will, and should, remain frozen in the past as part of the historical record. But the support he received from many of his countrymen suggests that the paths Russia took during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries--the tyranny of communism, the authoritarianism of Putin's regime--were not the only ones written in her historical destiny. Savinkov's goals remain a poignant reminder of how things in Russia could have been, and how, perhaps, they may still become someday.

Written with novelistic verve and filled with the triumphs, disasters, dramatic twists and contradictions that defined Savinkov's life, this book shines a light on an extraordinary man who tried to change Russian and world history.

Vladimir Alexandrov received a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Princeton. He taught Russian literature and culture at Harvard before moving to Yale, where he is now B.E. Bensinger Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages and Literatures. He is the author of The Black Russian as well as books on Bely, Nabokov, and Tolstoy, and lives in Hamden, Connecticut.

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Sebastian Ritscher

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The extraordinary life of Boris Savinkov - revolutionary assassin, self-described terrorist, and novelist - is one of those historical enigmas peculiar to the tragedy of modern Russia. But in the hands of this masterful biographer, Savinkov is resurrected. Vladimir Alexandrov expertly mines the archives to write a spy story filled with intrigue, passion and improbable adventures - and along the way we learn a great deal of history. A formidable achievement.

Quote: Kai Bird is a Pulitzer Prize winning historian, the Director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography and the author most recently of The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter

The importance of Boris Savinkov and his controversial role in the Russian Revolution and Civil War have been overlooked recently, but this excellent and well-written biography by Professor Alexandrov should do much to reawaken interest in his extraordinary life.

Quote: Antony Beevor, author of Stalingrad

Boris Savinkov was one of the most colourful, notorious and enigmatic figures in revolutionary Russia - a flamboyant hero to some, an untrustworthy villain to others. Extraordinarily influential in his lifetime - and still a legendary figure in Russia - this complex individual has been all-but forgotten in the West. Vladimir Alexandrov's superb biography provides a page-turning account of Savinkov's roller-coaster life, as well as throwing valuable new light on the history of the Russian state.

Quote: Giles Milton, best-selling author of Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare and D-Day

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