To Break Russia’s Chains: Boris Savinkov and His Wars against the Tsar and the Bolsheviks

September 13, 2021

Last week, Koerner Fellow Vladimir Alexandrov released his most recent publication: To Break Russia’s Chains: Boris Savinkov and His Wars against the Tsar and the Bolsheviks. As noted in the commentary from the publisher, Savinkov was a “a paradoxically moral revolutionary terrorist, a scandalous novelist, a friend of epoch-defining artists like Modigliani and Diego Rivera, a government minister, a tireless fighter against Lenin and the Bolsheviks, and an advisor to Churchill, [who]… at the end of his life, conspired to be captured by the Soviet secret police.” The work shines light on “an extraordinary man” whose “goals remain a poignant reminder of how things in Russia could have been, and how, perhaps, they may still become someday.”

Vladimir Alexandrov grew up in New York City in a Russian émigré family and completed a Ph.D. in comparative literature at Princeton. After teaching in the Slavic Department at Harvard, he moved to Yale’s Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures in 1986, where he taught undergraduate and graduate courses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian literature and culture (Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Nabokov, Bely, among other writers and topics) until retiring in 2018 to write full time. While preparing to teach a graduate seminar on Russian émigré culture, he discovered Frederick Bruce Thomas, and wrote The Black Russian, about this African American who led an extraordinary life in Russia and Turkey in the early twentieth century. This book is now being developed into a TV dramatic series. He then turned his attention to the controversial Russian revolutionary Savinkov, the subject of To Break Russia’s Chains. Professor Alexandrov has also written a number of academic books, including Limits to Interpretation: The Meanings of Anna Karenina. His next project will focus on Lincoln and Russia.

To read further information about Professor Alexandrov and reviews of the book, click here.