Dominic Lieven’s position as a professor of Russian studies shows clearly in this book. He clearly knows whereof he speaks as he tackles the last stages of the Napoleonic Wars from a Russian perspective. And he is quite right in that this is an overdue work. Russian histories of the period have been overshadowed by Tolstoy, and tend to focus on 1812 to the detriment of the following two years, when Russia led a coalition from its borders to Paris.

Russia was by far the main power involved in 1813 and 1814, and if they don’t bother to talk about it, who will? I personally hadn’t realized much had gone on then, much less the very contested campaigning of 1813 until I recently read Chandler’s The Campaigns of Napoleon.

So, this book is excellent just for providing a good focus on that action. Of course, he talks about the earlier war (ending with the Treaty of Tilsit) somewhat briefly, and then spends a lot of time going in-depth with Russia’s preparations over the next five years, and all the fighting in 1812. Those of you who are familiar with Tolstoy also get a parenthetical ‘reader’s guide’ to War & Peace, as he points the people who are the basis of major characters of the novel.

And not only is this book informative on two different levels, it is well-written. Not stellar prose, but still very clear, and well put together. There is a lot packed into the book, and it is highly recommended.