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It is a daunting task to elicit sentiments of nostalgia or even regret for the demise of a social class that owed its elite status to birth rather than merit. Smith, a historian and former analyst of Russian affairs for the State Department, succeeds admirably in this wide-ranging and often moving account of the fate of the Russian nobility, from the Bolshevik Revolution to the Stalinist era. His narrative moves seamlessly from a general survey of the nobility to the deeply personal and tragic story of two noble families, the Sheremetevs and the Golitsyns. Smith portrays the nobility as a class as being surprisingly diverse, encompassing non-Russians, religious minorities, and relatively impoverished families. He demolishes the facile caricature of the idle, decadent abuser of peasants, since many nobles had admirable records of service to the state in the military and in government bureaucracy. This is a superbly written and emotionally wrenching ode to a class doomed by the flow of history. --Jay Freeman
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review by . December 31, 2012
In many ways this is a very sad book, recounting the lives of several aristocratic families after the Russian Revolution. Also, it is a story of heroism and calm acceptance of what was happening to these people.      After the Bolshevik takeover of Russia, there was a concerted effort to demonize and eliminate from society and the country those that the new rulers felt were a danger to themselves. These men, through their propaganda, turned the old nobility into "non-persons …
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