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Red Fortress: The Secret Heart of Russia's History

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  177 ratings  ·  32 reviews
A magisterial, richly detailed history of the Kremlin, and of the centuries of Russian elites who have shaped it—and been shaped by it in turn

The Kremlin is the heart of the Russian state, a fortress whose blood-red walls have witnessed more than eight hundred years of political drama and extraordinary violence. It has been the seat of a priestly monarchy and a worldly chu
Hardcover, 508 pages
Published November 12th 2013 by Metropolitan Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Reading the Red Fortress is like reading a mini-history of the various rulers of Russia. I was hoping for interesting architectural details and a full disclosure of all the tricks they use to keep Lenin looking fresh but no such luck.

Merridale does start from the beginning with invading hordes and eventually moving on to strong leaders consolidating power. She also spends time on Russia's religious past and the churches that have been built and torn down inside the Kremlin.

She details how the
A História do Kremlin e a História da Rússia.
É um livro excelente para conhecer a história do Kremlin e as suas alterações ao longo dos 900 anos da Rússia e de Moscovo. Os incêncios, as purgas, os rituais e principalmente uma caracterização de um povo e dos seus lideres que voluntária ou involuntária nos provoca questões relacionadas com a personalidade dos povos. Será que alguns povos se desenvolvem melhor sob um regime autoritário e outros apenas sob formas de democracia?

O livro é enérgico, i
“The Kremlin is one of the most famous landmarks in the world”. With this sentence Catherine Merridale opens her fascinating and in-depth study of this symbolic and instantly recognisable complex of ancient and modern buildings, which in so many ways is the very incarnation of the Russian state. There is no reliable record of the Kremlin’s beginnings, although there is a mention of a prince's residence in 1147, and traces of a 12th century wall. The word Kremlin first appears in the 1300s, and s ...more
For enthusiasm and research, Catherine Merridale deserves five stars, but despite having visited Moscow both before and after the collapse of Communism, and been inside the Kremlin, I found this history hard going.

The opening chapters seem padded out, since there is little to say about the rural backwater of Moscow and the wooden fortification of the initial Kremlin when Kiev was the centre of activity for the region. In the later Middle Ages, the political rulers on one hand and religious patri
Brad Rousse
The history of the Kremlin is the history of Moscow; and the history of Moscow is the history of Russia. This is essentially the argument of Catherine Merridale's engaging and intriguing history of one of the most foreboding and aloof buildings in the world. Starting with Moscow's far off origins in the Rus, Merridale takes her readers on a step by step, intimate view of the citadel as goes from earthen fort to the heart of a superpower. Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Lenin, Stalin, Putin; ...more
3.5 stars. This was a book that I'm glad I read but really felt like a slog. So much detail that it was overwhelming. I'm impressed at the research that went into this, but for a general audience book it felt too academic for me. Also, it could really use some timelines and maybe a brief cast of characters. I think that would've increased my understanding and ability to keep track of who was who and when significantly.
Aug 20, 2015 Ed rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs, aesthetes, history of architecture fans, Russian history beginners
A fantastic introduction to the broad sweep of Russian history, through the lens of the pretty ill-treated Kremlin complex. Ms Merridale's depth of research is accompanied by a great turn of phrase and the ability to keep the reader interested through a sometimes dizzying whirl of dynastic change. I particularly enjoyed the coverage of the grim days of the Stalin purges, and the role of the Kremlin in attempts to legitimise the post-communist 'democratic' settlement. Ms Merridale's attempts to d ...more
I always thought of the Kremlin as an elegant and stately government building in the French Imperial style with Byzantine and Russian motifs surrounded by an imposing red wall in front of the enormous Red Square forever flanked by St. Basil’s Cathedral which, in my humble opinion, is like an Arabian fairy tale nightmare induced by really bad “shrooms.”

In political terms, I believed said building simply housed the office and staff of Russian potentates, a sort of White House in steroids, since R
I read this one as research for the current novel in progress, and found its coverage of the subject both broad and deep. The timeline stretches from the earliest foundations of Moscow through recent events. With every generation, there's so much lost in terms of historical buildings and artifacts that it's rather heartbreaking to consider. Perhaps more than any other building on Earth, the Kremlin has come to symbolize the power of its associated government, and Merridale's account makes clear ...more
Este es un magnífico libro que introduce a la Historia de Rusia desde la perspectiva de la Historia del Kremlin que de por sí ya es interesante. Desde la fundación de Moscú prácticamente siendo un lodazal por parte de unos vikingos, a la sombra de Kiev durante muchos años, hasta la instauración de los zares, uno se entera de que fueron arquitectos venidos de Italia los que más construyeron inicialmente, incluso haciéndose su propia fábrica de ladrillos, o de cómo siempre fue la representación de ...more
Lauren Albert
This dragged for me and I can't put my finger on the reason. It wasn't quite about the Kremlin. But it wasn't quite about Moscow or Russia either.
I learned that the Kremlin's roots go back to the 13th century when Russia was still under control of the Mongol empire, most of the early building was done by Italians, Ivan the Terrible had a group of ruffians called oprichniki who sound like an early form of secret police, Moscow and the Kremlin have burned innumerable times most famously after Napoleon's attack and it was Peter the Great who began to limit church power. But by page 244 I was worn down by the author's fascination with archite ...more
Phoenix Grey
This book tells the history of the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. It spans from the inception of the Russian people from nomads and tribes to current the presidency of Vladimir Putin. It is written in an accessible style, so you don't have to be a history academic or scholar to understand it. This is a problem I have had with some history books in the past.

I enjoyed it, and learned a lot about Russian history. The text centres on the Kremlin, almost like the author is telling Russia's story from it
Gaylord Dold
Merridale, Catherine. Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlin, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2013 (506pp. $35)

Once the Slavic Rus tribe emerged as a force in Europe’s northeastern forest, they build a citadel for their warlord, one that would protect the tribe from assault by other princes,
especially the one who ruled the city of Tver, a headman who was much stronger than the Russian prince, and richer too. More than 800 years later, the Kremlin is one of the most famous structures
Hans Westra
Nov 11, 2014 Hans Westra rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with an interest in Russia
Recommended to Hans by: Michel Krielaards (Reviewer NRC Handelsblad)
Great reading, profound insight.
Pictures are far too small, more and better detailed maps are badly needed. Fortunately, they can be found on the Internet, but then - this is a book I read in the train.

The author has a fancy for Harry-Potter-style weights and measures like feet and ounces. This book will appeal to an international audience, not just Britishers. Old school transcription, e.g. Dostoevsky, Allilueva.
One would like to see a similar treatment of the Tower of London, (and what about H
Misschien een beetje voor de liefhebber, maar dit is een boeiend geschreven boek over de geschiedenis van het Kremlin en daarmee natuurlijk over de geschiedenis van Rusland.
Het begint bij de Vikingen (Rus), die hun nederzettingen langs de rivieren stichtten en gaat door tot Poetin in de 21ste eeuw. In tussentijd is er enorm veel gebouwd en ook weer vernield in het Kremlin en ongeveer net zoveel gemoord. Het zijn niet altijd vrolijke verhalen,maar wel fascinerend.
This was a very interesting history of Russia, told with a "Kremlin-centric" view point (as in the buildings and architecture) including the repeated rise and falls of Russia as a power, the frequent destruction within the walls of the Kremlin. The only drawback was the lack of pictures in the Kindle version.
Excelente livro, que de forma resumida explica a história de Rússia, vista através do seu mais emblemático representante: o Krenlim. Lamentavelmente a edição portuguesa de temas e debates apresenta vários erros de edição, letras trocadas, datas trocadas, preposições omissas ou erradas. Para quem gostou deste livro recomendo o livro de Júlia Lovell sobre a história de China vista desde a Grande Muralha, que vai no mesmo estilo.
Merridale does sterling work digging through historical evidence to tell the story of the Kremlin from its earliest days and from there, indirectly that of Moscow and Russia as well. The early history is exceptionally fascinating as Moscow burns, suffers from plagues, war and riots yet keeps soldiering on as the center of Russia. The book is weakest, but still interesting, in the section since the fall of the Soviet Union, a period barely old enough to be called history.

While the book is complet
Not just an architectural history. The history of the Kremlin explains the development of the Russian culture. Well written and engaging.
Uitgebreid en ernstig werk van een gedreven auteur. Het slothoofdstuk telt meer intense passages. Deze historica mengt zich daar in het heden om intelligent weerwerk te bieden tegen de verzonnen tijd- en smetteloze verschijning waarin de centralistische Russische staat het Kremlin hult.
Frightening that things don't really change much. The current situation in Crimea/Ukraine is another round of the same! Very enjoyable book creating lots to think about. Showed so much of the history of the Kremlin, the secrecy surrounding the Russians must have made it difficult to find the information. Following my visit to Moscow in 2012 this was most interesting and a good read.
Dan G
A very interesting study of Russian history through the evolution of the Moscow Kremlin. It worked quite well.
Red Fortress details the history of the Kremlin from is foundation as a single work to todays icon. While reading about the construction of its many walls and buildings you also learn the basic happanings of Moscow's history. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the citadel and its history.
Brian Allen
This book looks at the bloody history of the Kremlin, those who lived within the Kremlin, and those whose lives were affected by the Kremlin. Catherine is honest about what happened in the Red Fortress. The book was well written and worth reading if you love Russian History.
Bonita Braun
Mar 01, 2014 Bonita Braun rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Interested n Russia, archeology, city planning and history.
Recommended to Bonita by: Amazon reviews
Shelves: hostory
Excellently researched and fluid writing. Early chapters about construction were tedious to me but the booked picked up after Napoleon 's invasion, perhaps as I am more familiar with Russian history from that period to the present. The book provides insight to the Russian soul.
Margaret Sankey
This is a solid survey of Russian history, conceived around the Kremlin fortress as a literal defense as well as a symbol of the central power of the governments that have used it. Merridale goes light on the the 1940s, perhaps weary from Ivan's War.
Craig Powers
The author does a terrific job of aligning Russia's history and politics to the Kremlin, and its relevance in its past. Makes me want to read more about the country. She ends the book with a great conclusion.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. However, where some parts were super detailed, others just seemed to be vaguely glossed over. But it was a good read.
Apr 25, 2015 Olya marked it as abandoned
Was looking for a history of Russia through a different lens - not a day-by-day narrative of Kremlin's construction and its architectural merits.
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