HOLY RUSSIA: An Illustrated Guide to Russia, Past and Present by Fitzroy Maclean

HOLY RUSSIA: An Illustrated Guide to Russia, Past and Present

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What makes Fitzroy Maclean's guide to Russia different from any other? Unfortunately, very little. The first half of the book is a superficial account of Russian history: the second is a Baedeker to the churches, palaces, museums, restaurants, and hotels that the former British diplomat has visited. As a historian, Maclean is clearly an amateur. He confuses the history of Russia's royal families with the history of Russia, the Russian state with the Kievan Rus state, and Moscow the city with Russia the country. The result is a readable but far from profound ""history"" of Russia that is inferior to any number of standard works on the subject. As a traveler, however, Maclean does have something to offer; his descriptions of churches and other landmarks are interwoven with illuminating historical explanations and occasonal excursions into department stores and restaurants. But contrary to his claim to have given ""some account of Russia past and present,"" Maclean says very little about present-day life in the Soviet Union. The book is also burdened by a telegraphic style (""There ensued a decade of utter chaos. No regent was appointed. The autocracy was in abeyance"") whose terseness often does not do justice to the thought being expressed, particularly in the historical sections. A marginal addition to the already vast literature on Russia.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1979
Publisher: Atheneum