Catalogue


The bloody white baron /
James Palmer.
imprint
London : Faber and Faber, 2008.
description
xiii, 274 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0571230237 (hbk.), 9780571230235 (hbk.)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
London : Faber and Faber, 2008.
isbn
0571230237 (hbk.)
9780571230235 (hbk.)
catalogue key
6421039
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 264-267) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
Twentieth-century history has thrown up a few sinister characters stranger and more cruel than Baron Ungern-Sternberg, but not many, and only he conquered a country with a cavalry army _ the last person in history to do so _ in the in the age of the aeroplane and the tank.This violent, anti-Semitic fanatic took over Mongolia in 1919 with a ragtag force of White Russians, Siberians, Japanese and native Mongolians. He dreamed of creating a huge horse army with which he would retake Moscow and instal a new despotic Tsar. Some saw him as a promised reincarnation of Genghis Khan who would restore the greatness of the Mongolian Empire.This is an epic story, which moves from the Baltic through the vastness of Russia to Siberia and the Mongolian steppe. Ungern was born into the German aristocracy, descendants of the Teutonic Knights, which ruled the Baltic region under the Tsars. Ejected from his regiment for violence and instability, he found himself when he was posted to the Russian Far East before the First World War. He had already found his way to the cocktail of mystical beliefs and esoteric knowledge that was common among people of his class. Now he found Mongolian Buddhism, a very different creed from the doctrine of peace and love we associate with followers of the Buddha. Its hells and vengefulness chimed with his already extreme hatred of Jews, liberals and Bolsheviks.The aftermath of the war, in which he fought with reckless bravery, saw Ungern in the Far East leading a wild bunch of counter-revolutionaries. James Palmer describes his spiral into ever darker obsessions, and evermore cruel treatment of enemies. This was Mr Kurtz on horseback, covered in amulets and animal skins, leading a straggling horde of desperate men. In the end, Trotsky, then in charge of the Red Army, sent a formidable force against them.James Palmer does full justice to this barely believable story of a man who foreshadowed the Nazis in his combination of mysticism and genocidal violence, and he explains Ungern_s strange religious beliefs and the culture of Mongolia, of which this adventurer became, for a brief period, the absolute ruler.
Flap Copy
Twentieth-century history has thrown up a few sinister characters stranger and more cruel than Baron Ungern-Sternberg, but not many, and only he conquered a country with a cavalry army – the last person in history to do so – in the in the age of the aeroplane and the tank. This violent, anti-Semitic fanatic took over Mongolia in 1919 with a ragtag force of White Russians, Siberians, Japanese and native Mongolians. He dreamed of creating a huge horse army with which he would retake Moscow and instal a new despotic Tsar. Some saw him as a promised reincarnation of Genghis Khan who would restore the greatness of the Mongolian Empire. This is an epic story, which moves from the Baltic through the vastness of Russia to Siberia and the Mongolian steppe. Ungern was born into the German aristocracy, descendants of the Teutonic Knights, which ruled the Baltic region under the Tsars. Ejected from his regiment for violence and instability, he found himself when he was posted to the Russian Far East before the First World War. He had already found his way to the cocktail of mystical beliefs and esoteric knowledge that was common among people of his class. Now he found Mongolian Buddhism, a very different creed from the doctrine of peace and love we associate with followers of the Buddha. Its hells and vengefulness chimed with his already extreme hatred of Jews, liberals and Bolsheviks. The aftermath of the war, in which he fought with reckless bravery, saw Ungern in the Far East leading a wild bunch of counter-revolutionaries. James Palmer describes his spiral into ever darker obsessions, and evermore cruel treatment of enemies. This was Mr Kurtz on horseback, covered in amulets and animal skins, leading a straggling horde of desperate men. In the end, Trotsky, then in charge of the Red Army, sent a formidable force against them. James Palmer does full justice to this barely believable story of a man who foreshadowed the Nazis in his combination of mysticism and genocidal violence, and he explains Ungern’s strange religious beliefs and the culture of Mongolia, of which this adventurer became, for a brief period, the absolute ruler.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2008-11-24:
Ancient and modern savageries unite in the colorful antihero of this scintillating historical study. Baron Ungern-Sternberg (1886-1921) was a czarist officer who became a leader of anti-Bolshevik forces in Siberia during the Russian civil war. He was a staunch monarchist and anti-Semite, whose sadism heightened the brutality of an already vicious conflict. He was pushed by the Red Army into Mongolia, where his reactionary impulses, accentuated by an attraction to esoteric Eastern religions, grew downright medieval. Hailed as a reincarnated god by locals who perhaps mistook him for a prophesied Buddhist messiah, Ungern-Sternberg dreamed of leading an Asian empire against the decadent West and instituted a fleeting dictatorship under which resisters were flogged to death, torn apart or burned alive. Journalist Palmer pens a vivid and slightly wry profile of this larger-than-life figure who rode into battle bare-chested and necklaced with bones, and lucidly dissects Ungern-Sternberg's protofascist worldview, with its motifs of racism, feudal hierarchy, regenerative bloodshed and mystic communion with primitive virility. The result is a fascinating portrait of an appalling man--and of the zeitgeist that shaped him. Maps. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Guardian UK, June 2008
Guardian UK, March 2009
New York Times Full Text Review, October 2009
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Roman Ungern von Sternberg was a Baltic aristocrat, a violent, headstrong youth posted to the wilds of Siberia and Mongolia before the First World War. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Baron – now in command of a lethally effective rabble of cavalrymen – conquered Mongolia, the last time in history a country was seized by an army mounted on horses. He was a Kurtz-like figure, slaughtering everyone he suspected of irreligion or of being a Jew. And his is a story that rehearses later horrors in Russia and elsewhere. James Palmer’s book is an epic recreation of a forgotten episode and will establish him as a brilliant popular historian.
Bowker Data Service Summary
This is the astonishing story of the insane mystic who conquered Mongolia in 1920 and tried to lead a cavalry army against the Bolsheviks in Moscow.
Main Description
Roman Ungern von Sternberg was a Baltic aristocrat, a violent, headstrong youth posted to the wilds of Siberia and Mongolia before the First World War. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Baron _ now in command of a lethally effective rabble of cavalrymen _ conquered Mongolia, the last time in history a country was seized by an army mounted on horses. He was a Kurtz-like figure, slaughtering everyone he suspected of irreligion or of being a Jew. And his is a story that rehearses later horrors in Russia and elsewhere. James Palmer_s book is an epic recreation of a forgotten episode and will establish him as a brilliant popular historian.
Table of Contents
Maps
A Son of Crusaders and Privateersp. 11
The Ends of the Worldp. 23
Suspended Between Heaven and Hellp. 41
Things Fall Apartp. 69
Carrion Countryp. 91
Ragged Crusadep. 119
Lord of the Steppep. 161
A Hundred and Thirty Daysp. 193
The Last Adventurerp. 217
Epiloguep. 233
Notesp. 249
Bibliographyp. 264
Indexp. 268
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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