A Russian war hero who defeated Napoleon and became a mythic military figure.
Alexander Mikaberidze's latest book is the first modern English-language biography of Mikhail Golenischev-Kutuzov, the famed Russian Field Marshal and central character of Leo Tolstoy's epic "War and Peace." One of the most important military minds of the period, he is credited with defeating
Napoleon and saving Russia, though his fame is not limited to the Napoleonic wars. As it often happens with national heroes, Kutuzov gradually became larger than life, a messianic character who led Holy Russia against the evils of the Revolution and anarchy; the Soviet leaders later exploited his personality for even more grandiose schemes.
The real Kutuzov was gradually replaced by a mythical character who appeared at a time of great danger to save Russia. The impact of this propaganda can be still seen in modern Russia: In 2000, the public opinion poll showed that majority of the Russians consider Kutuzov as "the Person of the 19th Century," far ahead of famous writers Alexander Pushkin and Leo Tolstoy, composer Peter Tchaikovsky or scientist Dmitry Mendeleyev, while the 2017 public opinion poll placed Kutuzov in the top twenty of the most distinguished historical personalities in world history (slightly behind Napoleon).
As much as Kutuzov is venerated in Russia, he remains an overlooked figure in the West, with Western historiography comprising of just a handful of titles in English, French or German, the vast majority of them translations of older Soviet works or derived from them. This book provides a new biography of the field marshal, examining his personal life and military/diplomatic accomplishments, and relying on a wide range of primary and secondary sources as well as Russian archival material. Mikaberidze offers a fresh look at the historical figure whose character remains elusive but whose accomplishments are irrefutable.