978-0-394-50032-4 / 9780394500324

Peter the Great: His Life and His World


Publisher:Alfred A. Knopf



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About the book:

Soviet historians have not had an easy time coping with the figure of Peter the Great. Required to write history within the framework not only of general Marxist theory and terminology but also of the current party line, they sway back and forth between portraying Peter as irrelevant (individuals play no part in historical evolution), as an exploitative autocrat building "a national state of landowners and merchants," and as a national hero defending Russia against external enemies. A small but graphic example of this ambivalence is the treatment of Peter at the Poltava Battlefield Museum. A large statue of the emperor stands in front of the museum, and the visual exhibits inside all emphasize the presence and role of Peter. But the written material in captions and booklets obediently ascribes the victory to the efforts of "the fraternal Russian and Ukrainian peoples."

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