Towards the Flame
Empire, War and the End of Tsarist Russia
A powerful, brilliantly written new account of the destruction of Imperial Russia
'As much as anything, World War I turned on the fate of Ukraine...'
The decision to go to war in 1914 had catastrophic consequences for Russia. The result was revolution, civil war and famine in 1917-20, followed by decades of Communist rule. Dominic Lieven's powerful and original new book, based on exhaustive and unprecedented study in Russian and many other foreign archives, explains why this suicidal decision was made and explores the world of the men who made it, thereby consigning their entire class to death or exile and making their country the victim of a uniquely terrible political experiment under Lenin and Stalin.
But Towards the Flame is about far more than Russia.
By looking at the origins and results of the First World War from a mostly Russian angle it offers a radically different view of why Europe descended into disaster. Dominic Lieven's interpretation of Europe's great war and Russia's revolution will overturn assumptions about events that still have major implications for world history down to the present day.
Praise for Towards the Flame
A book of immense scholarship and engaging readability. Through an eastern window rarely opened to Western gaze, it illuminates the end of Europe's old order and the explosive start of the twentieth century. A century later, we are still struggling with this era's epic legacies.David Reynolds, author of The Long Shadow: The Great War and the Twentieth Century
Not just one of the greatest historians on Russia, but also a great writerAntony Beevor, The Independent
With its important new evidence about Russia's slide towards war, this is a much-needed account of a how a few clever but foolish men ruined their country and brought disaster on themselvesVictor Sebestyen, Sunday Times
Aristocratic values, imperial mindsets and the emergence of modern nationalisms are the big themes of this illuminating history of late tsarist Russia by Lieven... he writes with all the clarity, conviction and fluent command of sources that readers have come to expect of himTony Barber, Financial Times
This magnificent book, lively in perceptions and bristling with empirical novelty, traces the origins of the Russian-German rivalry. It is a pleasure to readRobert Service, Literary Review
[Lieven's] intimate familiarity with the Russia he describes and his extensive study of the letters, diaries and books of the chief actors in Russia's descent "towards the flames" - many not hitherto accessible to historians - are what render this book so authoritative and readableSerge Schmemann, The New York Times
Lieven presents Russia's road to war and revolution as a classical tragedy - a fate driven by the character of both the country and its rulers... [he] recovers a world that has been lostWilliam Anthony Hay, The Wall Street Journal
Lieven has a double gift: first, for harvesting details to convey the essence of an era and, second, for finding new, startling, and clarifying elements in familiar stories. This is history with a heartbeat, and it could not be more engrossingRobert Legvold, Foreign Affairs
Illuminating history of late tsarist Russia. Lieven writes with all the clarity, conviction and fluent command of sources that readers have come to expect of himTony Barber