With a New Foreword by Gary Saul Morson
“With his eye for detail, his taste for anecdote, and his sheer delight in the process of living, Rodzianko has created a delightful, if often sad, work.”—Gary Saul Morson, from his new foreword for this first American edition
"Capacious, powerful, and subtle—a forgotten work with real claims to historic interest and aesthetic value . . . It is Paradise Lost as told by Dostoevsky."—Washington Independent Review of Books
“War, like love, is an experience that each generation must learn for itself.”
Born into Russian aristocracy at the end of the 19th Century, Paul Rodzianko led a life rich in love, challenged by war, and inspired by great jumping horses. With humor and infectious joy, he recounts the adventures of his charmed childhood—playing with his cousins at the Winter Palace, riding horses at his family’s many country estates, and, most spectacularly, serving as a page in the court of Tsar Nicolas II.
Then, on August 1, 1914, Russia and Germany declare war on each other, and, Rodzianko writes, “The hurricane descended and swept our world away.” Serving in the Chevalier Guards, he fights first against the Germans and then, after the Revolution, against the Reds in Siberia. He writes movingly about WWI and the Russian Civil War: the initial excitement about going to war and the grim realities, the frustrating shortages of munitions and the failures of the railroads, the shocking execution of the Romanovs, and the brutal deaths of millions of young men.
Tattered Banners is an evocative and haunting account of a time and people that have continued to intrigue us for more than a century.
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Paul Rodzianko was born in the Officers’ Quarters of the Chevalier Guards Barracks in St. Petersburg in 1880. He lived through the great upheavals of the twentieth century to die peacefully at Brayfield Lodge, Olney, North Bucks, England in 1965.
Gary Saul Morson is the Lawrence B. Dumas Professor of the Arts and Humanities and a Professor in the Slavic Languages and Literatures Department at Northwestern.