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June 29 , 2008

Sunlight at Midnight

St. Petersburg and the Rise of Modern Russia


For Russians, St.Petersburg has embodied power, heroism and fortitude. It has encompassed all the things that the Russians are and that they hope to become. Opulence and artistic brilliance blend with images of suffering on a monumental scale to make up the historic persona the late W. Bruce Lincoln's lavish biography of this mysterious, complex city. Climate and comfort were not what Tsar Peter the Great had in mind when he decided to build a new capital in the muddy marshes of the Neva River delta. Located 500 miles below the Arctic Circle, this area, with its foul weather, bad water and sodden soil, was so unattractive that only a handful of Finnish fisherman had ever settled there. Yet to the Tsar the place he named Sankt Pieter Burkh had the makings of a paradise. His vision was soon borne out: though St. Petersburg was closer to London, Paris and Vienna than to Russian's far-off eastern lands, it quickly became the political, cultural and economic center of an empire that stretched across more than a dozen time zones and over three continents.In this book, revolutionaries and laborers brush shoulders with tsars and builders, soldiers and statesmen share pride of place with poets. For only the entire historical experience of this magnificent and mysterious city can reveal the wealth of human and natural forces that shaped the modern history of the city and the nation it represents.
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