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Boris Savinkov and His Wars against the Tsar and the Bolsheviks

"A controversial figure in Russian history earns an impassioned, long-overdue treatment.  This thoroughgoing biography builds [Savinkov’s] story with meticulous, novelistic detail . . . Throughout this fascinating historical biography, Alexandrov demonstrates his facility with the Soviet archives, delivering a scholarly yet accessible work perfect for library collections.  A painstaking work of archival research that unearths little-known details of early Soviet history."

Kirkus Starred Review

"an exhaustively researched biography of Russian revolutionary Boris Savinkov (1879–1925) . . . Marshalling a large cast of characters and a mountain of research into a fluid narrative, Alexandrov clarifies the complex dynamics of the Russian Revolution. This trenchant biography gives its fascinating subject his due."

Publishers Weekly

"In an age of extremes, Boris Savinkov was neither Red nor White, and his story shows a complexity to Russian history and the paths not taken that throws all our assumptions into disarray."

Literary Hub’s CrimeReads: 5 Nonfiction Books You Should Read This Month (September 2021)

"engagingly and thoroughly readable new biography . . . important and fascinating book."

The Critic (UK)

“this compelling study . . . distils a great deal of research into a fast-paced narrative [that] reads like a political thriller . . . it is a story Alexandrov tells with aplomb.”

Times Literary Supplement (UK). Reprinted in The Spectator World (UK)

"reads like a spellbinding thriller. Professor Alexandrov’s biography of Boris Savinkov not only sheds light on one of the most fascinating figures in Russian history, but also prompts speculation about how the history of Russia may have played out differently if the former terrorist turned government minister had achieved his goals."

New Books Network

"brilliant research . . . fast moving and lively prose . . . fascinating story . . . It is difficult to imagine a better guide to the multiple complexities of Savinkov’s life, times, and works than Alexandrov . . . Combining deep historical knowledge, fresh critical insights, and penetrating psychological observations, Alexandrov shows Savinkov’s dramatic life story taking shape against the backdrop of a cataclysmic quarter-century of Russian history . . . Today, when fantasies of redemptive violence have become a staple of the daily news cycle, Savinkov’s story is particularly relevant."

Common Knowledge

"This excellent study expertly chronicles the complexities of the Russian Revolution and the Civil War through the extraordinary life of Boris Savinkov . . . The breadth of Alexandrov’s research is highly impressive as is his large cast of characters, whom he handles very deftly . . .This very welcome biography now brings Savinkov’s adventures to a whole new audience."

History of War (UK)

Recommended as one of "18 new books by CT authors to read this winter."

CT Insider, December 2, 2021.

"Alexandrov’s biography is well worth reading for its depiction of the real feel of the historical situation and for the complexity of a historical character like Savinkov, whose life spanned a whole chapter of Russian history."

The American Conservative

“A thorough and detailed study . . .One of the more remarkable lives in an era of remarkable lives. Alexandrov wonders just what might have been had Savinkov’s last plot not been thwarted . . . a question worth asking.”

Los Angeles Review of Books

“. . . well-written, often gripping.  Spies, double deals, subterfuge, plots, arrests, escapes, and revolutionary acts abound across its 500 pages. Alexandrov offers the best conclusion for understanding Savinkov’s remarkable life and ultimate fate: ‘as is often the case, what happened was the exact opposite of what he expected.’”


“In Vladimir Alexandrov’s To Break Russia’s Chains: Boris Savinkov and His Wars against the Tsar and the Bolsheviks,  we are offered a poignant idea of what “might have been” in the last century of history if Savinkov’s struggle for a democratic Russia had succeeded.   Alexandrov presents Savinkov in all his complexity, particularly the blind spots which sank so many of his efforts.”

Washington Independent Review of Books

"an engaging and even novelistic biographer . . . clear explications . . . a commendable array of published and unpublished sources."

The Russian Review

"an impressive work of scholarship . . . accessibly and engagingly written, with a novelistic flourish befitting its dashing terrorist-littérateur protagonist . . . a far more balanced account of Savinkov the man than has hitherto been available . . . a worthy subject, recommended for specialist and general readers alike."

Modern Language Review (UK)

"skillful writing style . . . like watching a political suspense movie . . . numerous rich and detailed depictions . . . fascinating insights and discoveries . . . highly recommended."

Slavica Kiotoensia (Japan)


“James Bond as written by Kafka . . . Richly engrossing and immersive”

“a terrific biography/history of . . . a fascinating figure”

“informative and engrossing”

“a must read . . . reads like a novel”

“a remarkable book . . . a real page-turner . . . one of the best books I have read in a while”

“superb . . . totally engrossing and indeed compelling”

“a vivid, bracing book!”

“Fascinating book . . . beautifully written”

“a fascinating figure . . . reads like a novel . . . exhaustively researched. Hard to put down”

"excellent! Exhaustively researched and very well written . . . Highly recommended!"

"Well researched, well written, and very readable history . . . Buy and read this book.

You won't be disappointed."

"An extraordinary tale . . . the book reads like a mystery thriller . . . a layered biography about the most interesting man you’ve never heard of."

"“an excellent biography . . . a real ‘page turner’ . . . a compelling image of Boris Savinkov and his drive to change Russia into a freer more just country.”

"A must read!"

"A fascinating story told brilliantly . . . No one could tell it better than Vladimir Alexandrov."

"far more than just entertaining . . . asks and answers persistent questions.  Why the hell the Bolsheviks won in 1921 and the Whites and Entente lost?"
"I recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone interested in the history of Russia, or history in general . . . a well-written, accurate and gripping account of events that have served to create the world we are living in today."

"exquisitely written, painstakingly researched . . . nuanced in a way that biographies/life stories rarely are . . . puts you right in the action . . . a great story, a historical work with moments of profound literary analysis . . . and a sensitive study in human psychology. Highly recommended."

"Fascinating and beautifully written story that beggars the imagination."

Order through Amazon, Simon & Schuster, or Atticus Bookstore Cafe (signed copies available)

For review copies contact Pegasus

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