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About Douglas Smith
Over the past thirty years Douglas has made many trips to Russia. In the 1980s, he was a Russian-speaking guide on the U.S. State Department's exhibition "Information USA" that traveled throughout the USSR. He has worked as a Soviet affairs analyst at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich and once served as an interpreter for late President Reagan.
Douglas has taught and lectured widely in the United States, Britain, and Europe and has appeared in documentaries for National Geographic, the BBC, and Netflix. He is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including a Guggenheim fellowship, Fulbright scholarship, and a residency at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Study Center.
His book Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy was a bestseller in the UK. It won the inaugural Pushkin House Russian Book Prize in 2013, was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, and was chosen Book of the Year by Andrew Solomon in Salon. His 2016 biography Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs was a finalist for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
Douglas is currently completing a book on the recently discovered photography archive of Major Martin J. Manhoff and a new translation of Konstantin Paustovsky's epic memoir, The Story of a Life.
Born and raised in Minnesota, Douglas has lived in Vienna, London, and Moscow, and is now based in Seattle with his wife and children.
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On the centenary of the death of Rasputin comes a definitive biography that will dramatically change our understanding of this fascinating figure
A hundred years after his murder, Rasputin continues to excite the popular imagination as the personification of evil. Numerous biographies, novels, and films recount his mysterious rise to power as Nicholas and Alexandra's confidant and the guardian of the sickly heir to the Russian throne. His debauchery and sinister political influence are the stuff of legend, and the downfall of the Romanov dynasty was laid at his feet.
But as the prizewinning historian Douglas Smith shows, the true story of Rasputin's life and death has remained shrouded in myth. A major new work that combines probing scholarship and powerful storytelling, Rasputin separates fact from fiction to reveal the real life of one of history's most alluring figures. Drawing on a wealth of forgotten documents from archives in seven countries, Smith presents Rasputin in all his complexity--man of God, voice of peace, loyal subject, adulterer, drunkard. Rasputin is not just a definitive biography of an extraordinary and legendary man but a fascinating portrait of the twilight of imperial Russia as it lurched toward catastrophe.
Epic in scope, precise in detail, and heart-breaking in its human drama, Former People is the first book to recount the history of the aristocracy caught up in the maelstrom of the Bolshevik Revolution and the creation of Stalin's Russia. Filled with chilling tales of looted palaces and burning estates, of desperate flights in the night from marauding peasants and Red Army soldiers, of imprisonment, exile, and execution, it is the story of how a centuries'-old elite, famous for its glittering wealth, its service to the Tsar and Empire, and its promotion of the arts and culture, was dispossessed and destroyed along with the rest of old Russia.
Yet Former People is also a story of survival and accommodation, of how many of the tsarist ruling class—so-called "former people" and "class enemies"—overcame the psychological wounds inflicted by the loss of their world and decades of repression as they struggled to find a place for themselves and their families in the new, hostile order of the Soviet Union. Chronicling the fate of two great aristocratic families—the Sheremetevs and the Golitsyns—it reveals how even in the darkest depths of the terror, daily life went on.
Told with sensitivity and nuance by acclaimed historian Douglas Smith, Former People is the dramatic portrait of two of Russia's most powerful aristocratic families, and a sweeping account of their homeland in violent transition.
An award-winning historian reveals the harrowing, little-known story of an American effort to save the newly formed Soviet Union from disaster
After decades of the Cold War and renewed tensions, in the wake of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, cooperation between the United States and Russia seems impossible to imagine—and yet, as Douglas Smith reveals, it has a forgotten but astonishing historical precedent.
In 1921, facing one of the worst famines in history, the new Soviet government under Vladimir Lenin invited the American Relief Administration, Herbert Hoover’s brainchild, to save communist Russia from ruin. For two years, a small, daring band of Americans fed more than ten million men, women, and children across a million square miles of territory. It was the largest humanitarian operation in history—preventing the loss of countless lives, social unrest on a massive scale, and, quite possibly, the collapse of the communist state.
Now, almost a hundred years later, few in either America or Russia have heard of the ARA. The Soviet government quickly began to erase the memory of American charity. In America, fanatical anti-communism would eclipse this historic cooperation with the Soviet Union. Smith resurrects the American relief mission from obscurity, taking the reader on an unforgettable journey from the heights of human altruism to the depths of human depravity. The story of the ARA is filled with political intrigue, espionage, the clash of ideologies, violence, adventure, and romance, and features some of the great historical figures of the twentieth century.
In a time of cynicism and despair about the world’s ability to confront international crises, The Russian Job is a riveting account of a cooperative effort unmatched before or since.
A biografia que mudará para sempre a forma como vemos uma das figuras mais poderosas da Rússia tsarista.
Mais de cem anos após seu assassinato, Raspútin continua na imaginação popular como um símbolo da encarnação do mal. Muitos livros e filmes contam a história de sua ascensão misteriosa ao poder como confidente de Nicolau e Alexandra, e guardião do debilitado herdeiro do trono russo.
Separando fato e ficção, o trabalho monumental do premiado historiador Douglas Smith apresenta Raspútin em toda sua complexidade: homem religioso, súdito leal, adúltero e boêmio. Com base em documentos encontrados em sete países, Raspútin é a biografia definitiva de um homem extraordinário que viveu o ocaso da dinastia Románov.
"A biografia definitiva da figura mais misteriosa e controversa da Rússia." — The Washington Post
"Douglas Smith pesquisa meticulosamente o homem atrás do mito. O resultado é uma narrativa lúcida e vívida de um Raspútin inesquecível." ― The Wall Street Journal
"Douglas Smith faz a biografia definitiva de Raspútin. Brilhante, envolvente e hipnótica. Selvagem e erótica em suas revelações, sensível no retrato humano, astuta na análise política e muito rica no material pesquisado." ― Simon Sebag Montefiore
In seiner großen, beeindruckenden Biographie zeigt uns Douglas Smith, wer Grigori Jefimowitsch Rasputin wirklich war – eine schillernde Persönlichkeit in einer dramatischen Wendezeit. Der renommierte Historiker hat dazu in sieben Ländern eine Fülle von neuen Dokumenten entdeckt. Darin stößt er auf einen Rasputin, der jene tiefen Widersprüche zwischen dem alten und dem neuen Russland zu deuten wusste und der umso mehr darunter litt. Damit zeichnet Smith zugleich ein eindruckvolles Panorama einer haltlos gewordenen russischen Gesellschaft am Vorabend ihres Untergangs.