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Martin Sixsmith's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Martin Sixsmith recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Martin Sixsmith's favorite book recommendations of all time.


V. D. Nabokov and the Russian Provisional Government, 1917

Recommended by Martin Sixsmith, and 1 others.

Martin SixsmithHe was an official in the provisional government. His moment of fame was when Nicholas abdicated and he wanted the crown to go to his brother Michael. Not all that surprisingly, Michael was a bit dubious about this because he was inheriting a real can of worms. So the provisional government sent a delegation to Michael to tell him he was now the Tsar. The delegation was led by Vladimir... (Source)

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Ten Days that Shook the World

Ten Days That Shook the World is John Reed’s eyewitness account of the Russian Revolution. A contemporary journalist writing in the first flush of revolutionary enthusiasm, he gives a gripping record of the events in Petrograd in November 1917, when Lenin and the Bolsheviks finally seized power. Containing verbatim reports both of speeches by leaders and the chance comments of bystanders, set against an idealized backcloth of the proletariat, soldiers, sailors, and peasants uniting to throw off oppression, Reed’s account is the product of passionate...
Recommended by Martin Sixsmith, and 1 others.

Martin SixsmithI like John Reed because he’s a journalist like myself, like yourself, and he was on hand to paint this fantastic, vivid picture of 1917. As you know, Warren Beatty turned it into that movie Reds in the 1980s that made revolution fun, sexy and exciting. John Reed debunks the great Soviet myth that October was a huge heroic struggle by the masses. He said: No, it wasn’t like that. The Winter... (Source)

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August 1914 (The Red Wheel, #1)

In the first month of the First World War the Russian campaign against the Germans creaks into gear. Crippled by weak, indecisive leadership the Russian troops battle desperately, even as the inevitability of failure and their own sacrifice dawns. Solzhenitsyn’s astounding work of historical fiction is a portrait of pre-revolutionary Russia, a tragic war story, and an epic novel in the great Russian tradition. less
Recommended by Martin Sixsmith, and 1 others.

Martin SixsmithHe’s the antithesis of Tolstoy in a way. August 1914 and the Red Wheel novels are a polemic against Tolstoy because he sees this Tolstoyan inevitability of history and he says: That’s wrong! People need to make a stand and try to change things for the better! (Source)

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The Russian Tradition

This analysis of Russian history traces the essential features of Revolutionary Russia back to medieval times when authoritarian rule first became a prerequisite of survival and is intended as a contribution to our understanding of the Soviet Union. less
Recommended by Martin Sixsmith, and 1 others.

Martin Sixsmith This is a more arcane choice. He was a Hungarian naturalised British historian in the late 70s when I was at university. His view of history was quite fashionable at that time and has stayed with me. Specifically, his view of Russian history. It’s a rather conservative, right-wing view that says Russia can never be a Western-style democracy or market economy in the way that we know it because of... (Source)

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War And Peace

War and Peace broadly focuses on Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 and follows three of the most well-known characters in literature: Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a count who is fighting for his inheritance and yearning for spiritual fulfillment; Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, who leaves his family behind to fight in the war against Napoleon; and Natasha Rostov, the beautiful young daughter of a nobleman who intrigues both men.

As Napoleon's army invades, Tolstoy brilliantly follows characters from diverse backgrounds—peasants and nobility, civilians and...

Vanora BennettAlthough it was published in 1869, War and Peace deals with events half a century earlier. This makes it one of the first historical novels – and, all these years later, it’s still the greatest. (Source)

Tendai HuchuTolstoy does something which is very unusual in War and Peace and which, for his time, was pretty profound: he sees the conditions of the ordinary soldier on the battlefield. (Source)

Niall FergusonAs a middle aged man, I react differently to Tolstoy than I did when I first read War and Peace at about 15. (Source)

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