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Former People: The Last Days of the Russian Aristocracy

Former People: The Last Days of the Russian Aristocracy - Douglas Smith This is certainly "Epic in scope" and "intimate in detail" and Douglas Smith describes what happened to the Sheremetevs and Golitsyn's families, two of Russia's grandest and oldest aristocratic families during and after the Russian Revolution.

I really enjoy Russian history and have read quite a lot of non fiction on the Russian Revolution but this one came across as quite dry and dense. While the author focus his research on two families there are a lot of other family names mentioned throughout this account and even through there is long list of principal figures and two pages of family trees at the beginning of the book I still had great difficulty keeping track of who was who and who belonged and who belonged to which family.

This felt more like a chore to pick up and sift through the information that was of interest to me. It is without a brilliantly researched book and is based on diaries and other written material of these families. The harshness and cruelty of the regime of the time is well documented and makes for difficult reading. As always I really enjoyed the maps and photos included as these really do help the reader establish a connection.

This book didn't suit me as it was too dense and dry and I felt it felt more like study than reading for pleasure and while I waded through I didn't really enjoy the experience. However I appreciate that this is well written and researched and other readers may love this book for the very reasons I didn't.