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Glorious Misadventures: Nikolai Rezanov and…

Glorious Misadventures: Nikolai Rezanov and the Dream of a Russian America (2013)

by Owen Matthews

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An entirely serviceable, if workmanlike, account of Nikolai Rezanov's life and adventures in Russian America. The narrative gets a bit plodding at a few points, but generally moves along quite nicely and is filled with interesting historical tidbits about Russian settlements in North America, and about Rezanov's disastrous embassy to Japan. A useful example of "what might have been," had Rezanov been more successful with his schemes. ( )
  JBD1 | Sep 11, 2014 |
This is one of the most entertaining histories I have ever read. Glorious Misadventures is the perfect title because Nikolai Rezanov was so far ahead of his time in terms of his vision of what could be done with the "new world" and yet kept skittering off the mark. A perfect example of brilliant ideas coupled with arrogance, egomania, and short-sightedness making a perfect recipe for failure. That Russia twice sold land that provided the two biggest gold rushes of the 19th century pretty much says it all. I enjoyed this right to the last page of the epilogue. ( )
  archangelsbooks | Mar 17, 2014 |
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Like all of us sinners, General B. was endowed with many virtues and many defects. Both the one and the other were scattered through him in a sort of picturesque disorder. Self-sacrifice, magnanimity in decisive moments, courage, intelligence - and with all that, a generous mixture of self-love, ambition, vanity, petty personal ticklishness, and a good many of those things which a man simply cannot do without. - Nikolai Gogol, 'Dead Souls'
To Xenia, Nikita, and Teddy
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(Prologue) On a warm spring evening in May 1806, a betrothal was celebrated in the tiny fort of San Francisco, the northernmost outpost of Spain's American empire.
(Introduction) I first heard of Nikolai Rezanov in the summer of 1986.
No childhood could be more calculated to instil in a growing boy a sense of the supremacy of man over nature than growing up in St. Petersburg as that great city rose from the marshes.
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"The Russian Empire once extended deep into America: in 1818, Russia's furthest outposts were in California and Hawaii. The dreamer behind this great Imperial vision was Nikolai Rezanov--diplomat, adventurer, courtier, millionaire, and gambler ... [In this book, the author] conjures a[n] ... original portrait of one of Russia's most eccentric Empire-builders"--… (more)

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