April 02, 2020

TBT: Ivan Susanin Does His Thing



TBT: Ivan Susanin Does His Thing
Ivan Susanin (Konstantin Makovsky, 1914)

Purportedly on this day in 1613 Ivan Susanin, a Russian peasant, when asked by invading Poles to point them toward the hideout of the newly crowned Tsar Mikhail Romanov, led them on a wild-tsar-chase through forest and bog.

When, in the end, the Poles discovered his deceit, they killed him, making him a Russian hero for all time. A couple of centuries later, It also made him the hero of Mikhail Glinka's opera, A Life for the Tsar.

It seems such a fantastic tale, that one might be inclined to deem it apocryphal, but there is actually pretty good evidence on the side of the legend being true. And, well, he even has a web page and a monument. And of course the very name Susanin is a cultural signpost: to call someone a Susanin is to say they are leading you astray, usually unknowingly.

The Summer of 1612
  • July 01, 2012

The Summer of 1612

A look back at the re-taking of Moscow from the Poles 300 years ago, by a couple of unlikely heroes.
Crowning Achievements
  • January 01, 2013

Crowning Achievements

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the beginning of the Romanov dynasty in Russia. A Washington museum is using the anniversary to show off some of its unique holdings, including several amazing coronation albums.
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Some of Our Books

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Bears in the Caviar

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Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

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At the Circus

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Marooned in Moscow

Marooned in Moscow

This gripping autobiography plays out against the backdrop of Russia's bloody Civil War, and was one of the first Western eyewitness accounts of life in post-revolutionary Russia. Marooned in Moscow provides a fascinating account of one woman's entry into war-torn Russia in early 1920, first-person impressions of many in the top Soviet leadership, and accounts of the author's increasingly dangerous work as a journalist and spy, to say nothing of her work on behalf of prisoners, her two arrests, and her eventual ten-month-long imprisonment, including in the infamous Lubyanka prison. It is a veritable encyclopedia of life in Russia in the early 1920s.
Murder and the Muse

Murder and the Muse

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Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.

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