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Established in 1703 by the sheer will of its charismatic founder, the homicidal megalomaniac Peter the Great, St. Petersburg's dazzling yet unhinged reputation was quickly cemented by the sadistic dominion of its early rulers. This city, in its successive incarnations-St. Petersburg, Petrograd, Leningrad and, once again, St. Petersburg-has always been a place of perpetual contradiction.It was a window to Europe and the Enlightenment, but so much of Russia's unique glory was also created here: its literature, music, dance, and, for a time, its political vision. It gave birth to the artistic genius of Pushkin and Dostoyevsky, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, Pavlova and Nureyev. Yet, for all its glittering palaces, fairytale balls and enchanting gardens, the blood of thousands has been spilt on its snow-filled streets.It has been a hotbed of war and revolution, a place of siege and starvation, and the crucible for Lenin and Stalin's power-hungry brutality. In St. Petersburg, Jonathan Miles recreates the drama of three hundred years in this paradoxical and brilliant city, bringing us up to the present day, when its fate hangs in the balance once more.
Was Protestantism `better' than Catholicism, contributing to well organised societies and economic enterprise? Or was Catholicism the religion of reactionary and backward states and societies like Spain and Austria, in contrast to the thrusting and modern bourgeois states of the United Netherlands and England? Certainly Spain and Austria declined but France, although Catholic and absolutist, rose to greatness, although the argument might be sustained by Britain's global triumph in the 18th century. Closely linked is the rise of the modern state in Europe and Russia - increasingly `European' under Peter the Great - and the Ottoman Empire. What was the structure of the modern state? Did rulers with administrative sophistication and centralisaton, buttresssed by a growing cadre of middle class civil servants - the `noblesse du robe' - and military and naval power, exercise absolute power over state and society? Or was royal absolutism a `myth', grand in display but bankrupt, increasingly opposed by all parts of society, and to swept away in revolution? Jeremy Black, one of the most prolific and stimulating scholars of early modern Europe sets his history in the context of the Middle East, Central, South and East and Asia and the New World, shows how Europe fits into a world view, and demonstrates that with the exception of Peter the Great's Russia, royal power in early modern Europe was based on compromise and traditional relationships with the aristocracy and gentry, the Estates, corporations, the church and with an element of common consent. Commercial progress was widespread, boundaries were stabilised, and European financial, technical and mineral resources fuelled New World expansion - until the revolutionary deluge after 1789.
Man Booker Prize Finalist National Book Award Finalist Two-time Booker Prize-winner Peter Carey's latest feat of imagination is an irrepressible, audacious, and trenchantly funny novel set mostly in nineteenth-century America. Olivier--an improvisation on the life of Alexis de Tocqueville--is an aristocrat born just after the French Revolution. Parrot is the motherless son of an itinerant English engraver. Their lives are joined when Olivier sets sail for the New World to save his neck from one more revolution and Parrot is sent with him as spy, protector, foe, and foil. With the story of their unlikely friendship, Peter Carey explores the adventure of American democracy with the dazzling inventiveness and richness of characterization, story, and language that we have come to expect from this superlative writer.