Russia in War and Revolution
Russia in War and Revolution

Russia in War and Revolution

The Memoirs of Fyodor Sergeyevich Olferieff

Edited by Gary M. Hamburg, Translated by Tanya Alexandra Cameron



672 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Hardcover, ebook: EPUB, Mobipocket, ebook: PDF

Hardcover, $49.95 (US $49.95) (CA $66.95)

Publication Date: March 2021

ISBN 9780817923648


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Fyodor Sergeyevich Olferieff (1885–1971) led a remarkable life in the shadows of history. This book presents his memoirs for the first time, translated and annotated by his granddaughter Tanya A. Cameron. Born into a noble family, Olferieff was a Russian career military officer who observed firsthand key events of the early twentieth century, including the 1905–7 revolution, the Great War, the collapse of the imperial state, and the civil wars in Ukraine and Crimea. Olferieff wrestles with moral and political questions, wondering whether his own advantages could be justified—and whether, if born a peasant, he might have thrown himself into the revolution. As Gary Hamburg writes in an illuminating companion essay, Olferieff wrote "to understand himself and to record his broken life for posterity" as a privileged observer of a bloody, historically pivotal era.


"Fedor Sergeevich Olfer'ev, a former Imperial Page and officer of the Russian General Staff, has gifted to us a remarkably forthright and captivating account of the first thirty years of his life (which also happened to be imperial Russia's last). Yet, as Professor Gary M. Hamburg reminds the readers in his insightful and lucid prolegomenon, Olfer'ev did not write his memoirs to settle old scores or 'to be understood by his contemporaries.' His goal was loftier—to understand himself and to record his broken life for posterity.' Masterfully translated by his American-born granddaughter and splendidly contextualized in Hamburg's extraordinary learned historical essays, Olfer'ev's reflections on the challenges and choices of his generation, which was groomed to serve the monarch but ended up abandoning His Majesty to save the country, offer an indispensable guide to life and polity of old Russia during its last and most consequential years of wars and revolutions." —Semion Lyandres, professor of modern European/Russian history, University of Notre Dame

"Accurate, clear-eyed, and unsentimental, Fyodor Olferieff's memoirs provide valuable insights into the last years of imperial Russia, World War I, the Revolution, and the civil strife that followed. Gracefully translated and augmented by Gary Hamburg's insightful companion essay, these recollections can be read with pleasure and profit by specialists and the general public." —Richard Robbins, professor emeritus, University of New Mexico

"Fyodor Olferieff's memoir is a fascinating account of a tsarist officer's life and journey through Russia's revolutionary era. Olferieff was a perceptive observer who witnessed a host of important events and figures, and Gary Hamburg's detailed introduction enhances his memoir's value as historical source." —Sam Ramer, associate professor of history, Tulane University 

"This memoir of a Russian nobleman and officer, not titled but of high rank, who lived through the entire drama of the decline of the monarchy, war, revolution, and civil war, to a classic escape through Odessa in 1919 and eventual American exile and citizenship, fluently translated into English by his granddaughter, tells a story that is familiar—the landed gentry childhood, the Corps of Pages, the Horse Grenadiers, the Imperial Military Academy, active duty in the imperial army, and then survival in the incredible confusion of Kiev in 1918—yet one that is extraordinarily textured, detailed, and thoughtful. The background is expertly set in Gary Hamburg's historiographically up-to-date introductory review of the decline of the old regime, the war, revolution, and civil war, followed at the end of the memoir by his meticulously well-informed running commentary on the contents of the memoir (best consulted, I should think, in a back-and-forth with the reading of the memoir itself). Altogether, a remarkable contribution to historical knowledge." —Terence Emmons, professor of history emeritus, Stanford University

Author Biography

Gary Hamburg is Otho M. Behr Professor of History at Claremont McKenna College and author or editor of more than seventy works, including Russia's Path toward Enlightenment: Faith, Politics, and Reason, 1500–1801. Tanya Alexandra Cameron is the granddaughter of Fyodor Sergeyevich Olferieff. She learned Russian and Russian history and traveled extensively to the Soviet Union in order to translate his memoirs.