THE FOX OF THE NORTH: The Life of Kutuzov--General of War and Peace by Roger Perkinson

THE FOX OF THE NORTH: The Life of Kutuzov--General of War and Peace

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A compact, wholehearted biography of Marshal Mikhafi Kutuzov, victor over Napoleon's Grand Army in 1812-13 and, according to Parkinson, a figure who has been denied his due--except by Tolstoy. Allegedly a lazy, indecisive intriguer who won battles by default and won advancement through connections, Kutuzov has been dismissed as a strategist by many Western analysts and held in unthinking awe by most Russians. Parkinson credits ""the sly old fox""--Napoleon's epithet--as an intellectual and a commander: trained in science and mathematics, this aristocrat had a concept of total war embracing diplomatic deceit and economic warfare. HIS concern for his foot-soldiers produced an army willing to sacrifice in the way that the French army sacrificed for Napoleon; to the horror of some Muscovite nobles, Kutuzov even armed the peasantry to harass the French invaders in the Kremlin. Parkinson, a military historian, faults Kutuzov's decisions only once: the failure to destroy Napoleon's hungry, freezing army at Krasnyi after its retreat from Moscow. For the rest, it was self-interested and foolish generals who damaged Kutuzov's reputation, along with the British ambassador, who convinced a meddlesome Tsar of the marshal's willingness to capitulate. It may be doubted whether ""not even Napoleon could match Kutuzov's clarity of strategic vision,"" but Clausewitz, the Prussian military genius who served under Kutuzov, later described him as Napoleon's most dangerous antagonist. The only English-language biography of this singular figure is partisan without Tolstoy's romanticism and presented in a style both direct and graceful.

Pub Date: Feb. 18th, 1977
Publisher: McKay