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Bayonets Before Bullets: The Imperial Russian Army, 18611914 (Indiana-Michigan Series in Russian & East European Studies) Paperback – January 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Series: Indiana-Michigan Series in Russian & East European Studies
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (January 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253213800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253213808
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,983,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his outstanding institutional and doctrinal history of the Russian army from the military reforms following the Crimean War to the outbreak of war in 1914, Menning, a U.S. Army analyst, discusses how the army prepared itself to fight in an era of dramatic technological, social and political change. He convincingly argues that the Russian army's ultimate failure involved linkages: its parts never meshed into a coherent whole. To illustrate his case, he analyzes the Russo-Turkish (1878-1879) and Russo-Japanese (1904-1905) wars. Masterpieces of conception and execution, these studies highlight the structural weaknesses of the late Tsarist empire, as well as the army's continued reliance on Napoleonic models. The accelerating pace and widening scale of modern military operations, he maintains, created insoluble dilemmas for soldiers trained to trust willpower and cold steel as the keys to victory. Illustrations not seen by PW.

Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"... this is an impressively researched book that examines not only military affairs but also issues concerning diplomacy, economy and technology... well written and tightly organised[,] it is a pleasure to read." --The Russian Review "Satisfying and substantive, this book represents a sophisticated contribution to an important topic." --American Historical Review " ... outstanding institutional and doctrinal history of the Russian army from the military reforms following the Crimean War to the outbreak of war in 1914 ... " --Publishers Weekly " ... genuinely significant, barrier-breaking ... brilliant, classically written ... This superb, timely and timeless book will be the foundation upon which all future books on this fascinating, too-little-explored subject will build." --Military Review " ... brilliant synthesis of the evolution of the Russian army in a critical half century." --The Journal of Military History "Menning provides the definitive English-language account of military thought, army organisation, and combat experience of late Imperial Russia. His multifaceted work is also a model of how military historians should look at the development of the armed forces of any country." -- War in History "I can recommend no better guide to understanding the contours of today's Russian military crisis than this book about that institution's grandparent... This is a startlingly timely work of history." -- Military Review "... brilliant synthesis of the evolution of the Russian army in a critical half century." -- Journal of Military History "Satisfying and substantive, this book represents a sophisticated contribution to an important topic." -- Slavic Review "This book is military history as it should be written. A must read for any scholar or amateur interested in late-nineteenth century military history, it is an important book in the context of the new Balkan tragedy as well as in that of the Russian army's current search for a new direction." -- European Studies Journal

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mark Howells on February 1, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a first-of-its-kind work in English to review the Imperial Russian Army during its crucial period of modernization from 1861 (just after Crimea) to 1914 (the eve of the Great War).
The author is an instructor of strategy at the US Army Command and General Staff College and is an outstanding writer of military history.
The defeat in Crimea lead to changes in organization, doctrine and strategy for the Russian army. It's involvement in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878 and the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 gave it operational experience from which to learn (or fail to learn) the lessons which a rapid change in military technologies taught on the battlefield.
Russia was one of the very few European powers to fight major, non-colonial wars in this period which saw the introduction of smokeless powder, magazine rifles, quick firing artillery, and machine guns. Contrary to popular belief, the Russian army did take active measures to adapt to the new military technologies along with improvements in transportation (railroads) and communications (telegraph, field telephones, and radio). The Russian army from Alexander II to Nicholas II was not a hide-bound, unintelligent mamoth as it is so often depicted.
The author divides the work up neatly by periods and his writing flows smoothly between doctrine, strategy, organization, and operational history. The politics of the Tsarist regime, the personality conflicts within the Tsar's army, and the technical changes on the battlefield are all woven together into a comprehensive whole. It is an excellent review of how the Russian predilection for reliance on "cold steel" held up during the changes forced by the Industrial Revolution.
I give it all five "bayonets".
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R. A Forczyk VINE VOICE on February 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a very military-academic study of how the Tsarist Russian army evolved from the Crimean War, through the 1877 Russo-Turkish War and Russo-Japanese War to become the military that went into World War One. One big disappointment is that the author stops at August 1914 without analyzing the first month of the war. He points out Russian deficiencies but fails to show how they were able to defeat Austrians in Galicia but lose at Tannenburg. Although the emphasis here is on doctrine, technology and force structure issues, there are excellent chapters on operations in 1877-8 and 1904-5. There are definitely similarities with Russia's current military troubles: political and social instability, economic weaknesses, technological changes that threaten to leave Russia's military behind, uncertain threat environment and lackluster military leadership. The Russian army made several key mistakes in terms of force structure, some of which are currently being repeated: they made the army too big for peacetime, but it was low quality and had few reserves. Not enough was spent on civilian infrastructure, such as railroads and industry. Officer education was woefully inadequate. Training exercises were more like parades than tactical problems. On the other hand, the individual Russian soldier fought well in both wars and the army made good choices on simple, robust weapons like the 1891 Mosin-Nagant rifle, the 76.2mm field gun and the Maxim machine-gun. Although only briefly mentioned in the book, it is apparent upon reflection that the Russian Navy was a waste of resources then, as now. Fully 25% of the military budget went to support a fleet that was annihilated in 1905 and inactive in 1914-7. This money would have been better spent building up an air force. The maps are hard to read and insufficient to follow major battles.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Tom Munro on December 29, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book examines the changes in organisation of the Russian Imperial Army from the period just after the Crimean War till the eve of the First World War.
Over that time tremendous changes occurred. During the Crimean War the Russians used mainly smooth bore muzzle loading weapons, firing black powder. Artillery was as rudimentary. Armies were reasonably small and a war would be decided by single battles fought over a day.
Over the next fifty years tremendous changes took place. Infantry were issued with rifled weapons that were breech loaded. This increased the fire rate and range of such weapons. In addition recoil springs were invented for artillery. This combined with breach loading meant that artillery could fire accurately and rapidly at distant targets. In addition the development of the railroad meant that huge armies could be put into the field and supplied for long periods of time.
These changes in weaponry led immense changes in the nature of battles. Because of the increased lethality of weapons battlefields became more dispersed. Instead of a battle taking place on a defined field of a few miles with closely packed infantry armies were more thinly spread over immense fronts. Battles instead of taking a day lasted months. This in turn meant that the modern armies had to be supplied with huge amounts of ammunition as well as food.
In the First World War the Russian armies in the end were defeated. However that was due not so much to the structure of the army but other things. The inability of the Russian state to be able to produce sufficient munitions for a long war and the fact that the state itself fell apart in 1917. The reality is that on the whole the Russians were able to build a reasonably efficient army in the period covered by the book.
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