One Rus­sian’s Jour­ney through Peace, War, Revo­lu­tion, and Ter­ror

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Biography -

Richard G. Rob­bins Jr. Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh Press (NOVEM­BER) Hard­cover $39.95 (544pp), 978-0-8229-4516-1

Richard Rob­bins’s Over­taken by the Night is an ex­tremely de­tailed ac­count of Vladimir Dzhunkovsky’s life. His story spans not just one, but sev­eral of the most tu­mul­tuous pe­ri­ods in modern Rus­sian history, and Rob­bins nicely po­si­tions Dzhunkovsky’s life as a way to tell the story of the Soviet revo­lu­tion from its in­cep­tion to its bloody af­ter­math.

With the over­throw of the tsar hit­ting its cen­ten­nial, the book is well timed, as Dzhunkovsky grew up and first came to promi­nence un­der the Ro­manovs. As a youth, he was at the Win­ter Palace when Alexan­der III ar­rived to take the place of his as­sas­si­nated fa­ther. He grew close to mem­bers of the royal fam­ily, serv­ing them in the im­pe­rial mil­i­tary and in ad­min­is­tra­tive roles be­fore be­com­ing the gov­er­nor of Moscow prov­ince.

As head of in­ter­nal se­cu­rity for the tsar in 1915, he had the no­to­ri­ous Rasputin watched and wrote a key report against him, lead­ing to his own dis­missal from of­fice. De­spite this sup­port for the monar­chy and his own re­li­gious be­liefs, he still at times earned the trust of post-revo­lu­tion lead­ers. At other times, he was im­pris­oned, and was even­tu­ally ex­e­cuted in one of Joseph Stalin’s mass killings in 1938.

Through all these phases, Dzhunkovsky wit­nessed and ex­pe­ri­enced some of Rus­sia’s most im­por­tant history: World War I, the fall of the monar­chy, the com­mu­nist revo­lu­tion, and Stalin’s purges lead­ing up to World War II.

Along with Dzhunkovsky’s pub­lic life, Rob­bins uses his mem­oirs and other historical sources to de­scribe his per­sonal life, from his early love for a mar­ried woman to his pri­vate thoughts on key in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions. Over­taken by the Night is a long and thor­ough tome, a well-re­searched biog­ra­phy of a con­sis­tently in­flu­en­tial Rus­sian leader.

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