Epic in scope, intimate in detail, heartbreaking in its human drama, Former People is the first book to recount the history of the nobility caught up the maelstrom of the Bolshevik Revolution and the creation of Stalin’s Russia. It is a book filled with chilling tales of looted palaces, burning estates, of desperate flights in the night from marauding bands of thugs and Red Army soldiers, of imprisonment, exile, and execution.
It is the story of how a centuries’-old elite famous for its glittering wealth, its service to the empire, its promotion of the arts and culture, was dispossessed and destroyed along with the rest of old Russia.
Drawing on the private archives of two great families – the Sheremetovs and the Golitsyns – it is also a story of survival and accommodation, of how many of the tsarist ruling class, so-called 'former people', managed to find a place for themselves and their families in the hostile world of the Soviet Union. It reveals, too, how even at the darkest depths of the terror, daily life went on - men and women fell in love, children were born, friends gathered. Ultimately, Former People is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.
About the Author
Douglas Smith is a Resident Scholar at the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies and an internationally recognized expert in Russian history.
He is the author of numerous articles and three critically acclaimed books, the most recent of which is The Pearl: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in Catherine the Great’s Russia.
Before becoming a historian, Douglas Smith worked with the U.S. State Department in the Soviet Union and as a Russian affairs analyst for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich. He lives in London and Seattle with his wife and two children.
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