In This Review

St. Petersburg: Russia's Window to the Future -- the First Three Centuries
St. Petersburg: Russia's Window to the Future -- the First Three Centuries
By Arthur L. George, Elena George
Taylor Trade, 2003, 512 pp
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Recounting history from the perspective of a city yields rich and often unusual angles, especially when the city is as central to Russian history as St. Petersburg. There are other fine histories of St. Petersburg in English, such as Katerina Clark's Petersburg and Solomon Volkov's St. Petersburg, but they are cultural histories focused on writers and artists. George instead offers a panoramic history of the city that starts with a detailed story of its construction under Peter the Great and then traces its role in the political, cultural, religious, and everyday life of the country, emperor by empress. He devotes individual chapters to Pushkin's and Dostoyevsky's Petersburg and finishes with the great dramas of the revolution, World War I, the Leningrad siege, the postwar period, and the present. Although not a tourist's coffee-table book, the intellectually curious traveler will enjoy George's account as much as the student of history.