"An exemplary popular history, a work which is at once erudite, readable, and persuasive.... Lincoln's work gives a multisided portrait of the Russian people at the most critical moment of their modern history." —Slavic Review
"A vivid, dramatic, and authoritative account of the societal clashes and contradictions that made the revolution of 1917 inevitable.... [Lincoln] makes history not only vivid but accessible."—Chicago Tribune Bookworld
"Lincoln has written a work of huge scope and astounding erudition."—Los Angeles Times
About the Author
W. Bruce Lincoln authored twelve books about Russia and its past, most notably The Romanovs: Autocrats of All the Russias; Red Victory: A History of the Russian Civil War; Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of a Thousand Years of Artistic Life in Russia; and Sunlight at Midnight: St. Petersburg and the Rise of Modern Russia.
I am Russian so I knew quite a lot about Russian history before opening this book. The book is the best guide to Russian history of the period. Here's why:
-It is written in a wonderful language - very easy to read, yet directed towards scholars. -History is divided into chapters that concentrate on specific subjects. -It is full of details that other history books often lack. I was surprised to see Bruce Lincoln use original Russian words instead of finding an English equivalent for it (such as "izba," "domovoj," "dvorovoj," "lapti," etc.). -Finally, I've not yet read a book that concentrates so much, and gives such an in-depth study, on the subjects that are usually avoided being talked about "pre-revolutionary" times (simply because they are deemed not important in the light of warfare).
With this book you will get a clear idea of what the Russian society looked like on the dawn of WWI. Bruce Lincoln actually spent several years in the Russian archives doing research (but not just for this book), so he has a first-hand knowledge on the subject.
The chapters discuss the following subjects:
Chapter 1 - 1891: The Fateful Year: Basic overview of the situation in Russia by the year of 1891: famine, construction of trans-Siberian railway, some politics.
Chapter 2 - In the Wake of Famine: Famine, peasants and life in the country.
Chapter 3 - Russia's New Lords: Emancipation, new layer of society "Kuptsi" and arts and trade associated with it.
Chapter 4 - Life in the Lower Depths: Proletariat and life in cities and towns.
Chapter 5 - The Few Who Dared: Revolutionaries - formation of the political parties, radicals, impact on literature.Read more ›
"In War's Dark Shadow" is one of the best histories I have ever read. Lincoln does an excellent job of making the reader feel what each of the major participants of this extraordinary time in history felt, from the peasants (narod) and industrial workers, to the revolutionaries and conservatives, and finally to the monarchs. No stone is left unturned in this exhaustive study of the events and the perceptions of those events that led to the downfall of the Romanovs and capitalism in 1917. Many people will be surprised to see the extent of anti-Semitism and xenophobia that permeated the society that later fought off the Nazis in World War II. For an entirely new perspective on the Russian people, I highly recommend this work.
In the forward, W. Bruce Lincoln states the book is "...an effort to explore the lives, thoughts, hopes, and dreams of the men and women who lived in the world's largest empire and to convey some sense of the tensions that tore at the fabric of their existence on the eve of the Great War and the Revolution of 1917." In this effort he succeeds brilliantly. We see portraits of Tsar Alexander III, Nicholas II, Pobedonostsev, Lenin, Rasputin, and a host of other generals, officials and ordinary people who shaped that era. We get an insider's look at what life was like in a peasant community, inside the peasant's izba or house, and their attitudes towards schooling, medicine and religion. We go inside the growing factories and the slums the workers inhabited in the cities with rapidly developing industry. We see the new nobility of the industrial barons, the revolutionaries fighting the tsarist autocracy, the defenders of the Old Order...all come to life in these pages. Graphic descriptions are given of the vicious pogroms against Jews. The impact of the Trans-Siberian Railroad in both economic and a political aspects is covered. The 1904 war with Japan is there with its criminally incompetent generals and and admirals and the war's impact on the development of the Revolution of 1905 as well as the mood of the populace as the nations slides toward the Great War. This well written, illuminating, detailed and well documented book is a classic work on the Russian society of those years and fleshes out the soul of Russia as few other books do. 16 pages of photos. Highly recommended.
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I am very interested in Russian history from 1891 through WWII since I collect a certain rifle that was used during that whole period. I have read various histories from the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 through many of the WWII books that are available. When I saw this volume at a used book store for $4, I figured what the heck. At least I might be able to use it for a reference.
As I opened the cover and saw it started in 1891, I became optimistic. A few pages into the first chapter convinced me that I found a gem; an interesting and informative overview of what is a very important part of Russian history.
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I bought this book for a class and was surprised at how engaging it is. This book is very well written and informative, and gave me a great general knowledge of Russia leading up to the Great War. The bibliography is extensive and very useful for anyone researching Russia in this era. Highly recommended.
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Professor W. Bruce Lincoln, who passed away in 2000, wrote In War Dark Shadows to cover the period of Russian history from 1891 to 1914. As usual with Lincoln’s books, it is literate, well-written, insightful and sometimes entertaining – just about everything that a good historian should aspire to provide. When taken as a trilogy with his later Passage through Armageddon and Red Victory, In War’s Dark Shadow provides the tapestry for following Russia’s descent into chaos, revolution and civil war. Even readers familiar with Russian history should find plenty of useful information in these pages and the author excels at connecting the dots on seemingly disparate topics. Overall, a very solid work of historical writing.
The book begins with a close examination of the year 1891 and the impact of three seminal events on subsequent history: the forging of the Franco-Russian alliance, the development of the Trans-Siberian railroad and the export of Russian grain to earn foreign currency, which leads to a massive famine. These are events that typically receive little mention in standard Western-based historiography, but which Lincoln effectively demonstrates were bellweather events. The famine caused an estimated 400,000 deaths in Russia and Lincoln uses this to begin his second chapter, which examines peasant life in great detail. It is a very bleak picture indeed, with 80 percent of Russia’s population living in abject, semi-starved poverty. Lincoln points out that Russian agriculture was not transformed by technology as it was in the West, which left the peasantry little better off than they were as serfs. He then discusses the rise of the entrepreneurial class, which has striking similarities with what transpired after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.Read more ›