Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $35.00
  • Save: $4.98 (14%)
Only 1 left in stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Red Fortress: History and... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Good solid book with some wear.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlin Hardcover – November 12, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$7.67 $0.01

The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
$30.02 FREE Shipping. Only 1 left in stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlin
  • +
  • Russian Fairy Tales (The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library)
  • +
  • Russian Folk Belief
Total price: $84.21
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Churchill famously referred to Russia as a “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” If so, it is undeniable that many of the components of that riddle have unfolded within the red-tinged, forbidding walls of the Kremlin, the complex of buildings in Moscow that has been at the center of the Russian state apparatus for eight centuries. Merridale, a specialist in Russian and Soviet history who teaches at Queen Mary University in London, shows how much of Russia’s often tortured, bloody history was due to top-down decisions by rulers from Ivan the Terrible to Stalin. She does an excellent job of integrating that history, the actions of the rulers, and the building and rebuilding of the Kremlin. From the inception of the complex, it seemed to reflect the desire of Russian rulers to convey a sense of both centralized power and stability. As Merridale illustrates, this was an illusion, since Russian and Soviet autocrats often exercised surprisingly limited control over a gigantic and often chaotic land mass. This is a well-done portrait of both Russian history and the Kremlin. --Jay Freeman


“Merridale's extraordinary history of the red fortress mixes politics, history, architecture and biography to lay bare the secret heart of Russia's history… It is a delight to read, with pithy pen-portraits, poignant vignettes and mordant summaries of the twists and turns of fate and fortune… Merridale does a brilliant job of piecing together the clues from the past and evading the constraints of the present.” ―The Wall Street Journal

“One of the best popular histories of Russia in any language… Merridale's stories flow naturally, she has a superb eye for detail and the telling fact, and she is not afraid to tell us just what she thinks.… The Kremlin becomes in her hands the narrative thread that knits together the disjointed story of Russia and the Russians. As a literary device, this works marvelously.” ―Times Literary Supplement

“A splendidly rich portrait of an exotic and puzzling redoubt… Vivid and meticulous… Merridale is a historian by training, but she has a detective's nose and a novelist's way with words. Her eyes and ears are as sharp as her pen.” ―The Economist

“Catherine Merridale's Red Fortress is a tour de force, as readable as it is extensively researched.” ―Financial Times

Red Fortress is much more than just another book about the Kremlin. It is a brilliant meditation on Russian history and the myths with which the Russians have sought to console themselves.” ―The Observer

“This simply superb chronicle of the Kremlin is really a brilliant and unputdownable history of Russia itself from the early Tsars via Lenin and Stalin to Putin; anyone who wants to understand Russia today will not only learn a lot but will enjoy every page.” ―Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Telegraph, Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Telegraph

“An exhilarating psychogeographical study of Moscow's Kremlin will delight many ...a book of detail and imagination…Merridale's book is a brilliant contribution to the ‘Xanadu' strand in English literature…an exhilarating journey.” ―The Guardian

“Immensely readable…Merridale recounts its eventful history with great skill and tremendous narrative verve.” ―The Sunday Times

“This unique and stunningly well illustrated book is going to be a definitive study.” ―Literary Review

“An extensive and meticulous journey through Russian history… How have Russia's leaders taken a history that is often either ‘difficult, contested, or fragmentary' and melded it to fit the pervading ideology of the day? With thorough research, including rare access to the Kremlin's dusty, permission-only archives, Merridale addresses this question and many more to weave an insightful, fascinating tale” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A comprehensive study of Moscow's walled city, for centuries a byword for power, secrecy, and cruelty… Russian visitors and social historians alike will benefit from Merridale's thoroughgoing research and lively writing.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“A well-done portrait… Merridale does an excellent job of integrating Russia's often tortured, bloody history, the actions of the rulers, and the building and rebuilding of the Kremlin.” ―Booklist


The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books; First Edition edition (November 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805086803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805086805
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.7 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #599,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book after reading several glowing reviews. I live in Moscow very near the Kremlin, so expected to learn many interesting facts about the place.

Unfortunately, in this I was disappointed. My main gripes:

1) at least in the kindle version, there are virtually no maps or pictures (other than on illegible map of the kremlin at the beginning). At least half the book (more on that later) consists of descriptions of the features, locations, and appearance of the Kremlin and many of the buildings constructed within it, but all of that is left to our imagination, and there are no pictures, drawings, etc. to illustrate what the author is talking about. It is possible that the print version has these illustrations, and if so, this criticism would not apply to it.

2) In addition to a history of the Kremlin, the book presents a rather episodic and uneven history of Russia. While this is unavoidable to a certain extent, much of this content really has nothing to do with the Kremlin and seems to have been inserted as a sort of primer on Russian history, in which role it falls short. In my view, much of this material should have either been excluded altogether or expanded to be more comprehensive.

3) I walk through Red Square on an almost daily basis, but after reading this book don't feel that I have any better understanding of the various buildings on the square. What's the story behind the construction of GUM, the massive department store opposite the Kremlin on Red Square? Not addressed... Similarly, what renovations have been done to the various towers over the centuries, and what specific role have they played, what significant events have occurred in them? Addressed, sort of, but not in a very user-friendly or comprehensive way.
Read more ›
8 Comments 56 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
"Kremlin" is the Red Fortress sitting on the Moscow River. For over eight hundred years the citadel has stood at the very heart of Russian's lengthy and bloody history of ruthless terror, persecution and dictatorship. The Kremlin has seen rulers come and go from Ivan the Terrible to Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, the Romanov Tsars (the first Romanov ruler began to rule Russia in 1613;l the dynasty lasted until the murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his entire family at the hand of the Bolsheviks in 1918). The most interesting part of the book, to this reviewer, was the last part of the long book in which the author deals with the rule of Stalin, Khruschev, Andropov, and the last Soviet ruler Gorbachev. She also has important points to make about Boris Yeltsin and his corrupt government and the autocratic present day rule of Putin.
Dr. Catherine Merridale is a British Scholar who has written extensively on Russia. I have read her earlier book "Ivan's War" concerning Soviet troops in World War II which I found of great historical interest. This interest led me to this new volume. It is presented in a dry and academic style. Many pages are devoted to the various churches, cathedrals, palaces and meeting rooms included within the wide and forbidding Kremlin walls. Much of this material will be new to Western readers with many finding the information to be dull and quickly forgotten!
To tell the story of the Kremlin is to tell the story of Russia that enigma wrapped inside a mystery. The book though dry contains valuable material for anyone interested in Russia, the Kremlin and the leaders of this large and important country.
5 Comments 31 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having spent my share of time under my school desk waiting for the powers of the Kremlin to send an atomic bomb, I have a deep seated curiosity for the stories of the Red Fortress. "The Kremlin is one of the most famous structures in the world." It has ever been a place designed to suggest historically rooted power. This book traces its inception in the earliest days of the rude, swampy Moscow to the present time. It is a landmark that has endured multiple incarnations, burning almost to the ground more than once. Lasting monuments have been wrecked to make room for other buildings fated to fall. This book traces both the structure of the Kremlin and the historic context of its changing legend.

The book has a slow start with the discussion of early Russia and it's swiftly changing rulers. The list of buildings and the sweep of change becomes a blur of names and construction. Somewhere around the emergence of the early Tsars, the story takes a more engaging shape and pulls the reader into the romance of a fortress and its people. I admit the book became truly bewitching to me with the entrance of the Soviets, and ironically their demolition of much its precious history. The stories from behind the scenes of Stalin's windswept end granite fort make for a clear dissertation on the intersection of the image and the building. This is the beginning of era of the iron tipped parades of May Day projected to the Western World.

This book has undertaken a huge task with the vagaries of a vast history and its mythologies. This book is intricate in its record of the entwining of the Kremlin and its people. In its turn, it beguiles the reader and delivers an encompassing history with graceful commentary and an author's clear affection for her subject. Past the collapse of the Soviet, Russia remains a source of foreign mystique, and its star still rest in the Red Fortress.
2 Comments 26 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlin
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlin

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: russia