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LSU Shreveport historian completes Russian war memoirs anthology

Kate Archer Kent
Red River Radio

A military historian at LSU Shreveport is out with his third volume in an ongoing anthology of Russian memoirs that are part of the “Eyewitness Accounts” series.

Alexander Mikaberidze read more than 4,200 pages of Russian diaries, memoirs and reports about Napoleonic Wars involving Russia for his latest effort.

His new book focuses on a conflict between France and Russia for control of Eastern Europe that was fought in 1807, which decimated both armies. Mikaberidze clicks through PDF files on his computer that show handwritten letters and documents written by Russian soldiers and their families. Many of the primary accounts were published by a Russian press in the mid-1800s.

“It is tedious work because you’ll read maybe 1,000 letters and then you’ll find one that is juicy enough that is deserving enough to be published,” Mikaberidze said.

The native of the Republic of Georgia has written and edited more than 12 books on Russian conflicts in the 1800s. Mikaberidze says the history of these battles and how they were waged is enriched by personal stories that provide a clearer picture than just cut-and-dry facts.

“Fore example, we moved from point A to point B. Then, if you look at the diaries and memoirs, they say, it’s been dark, raining and cold -- and we’re moving from A and B. It’s more descriptive. For a reader, I think memoirs and diaries deliver more of a sense of place and context,” Mikaberidze said.

His latest book brings to life the brutal conditions of the winter campaign of 1807 and advances the story of Napoleon’s crushing defeat of Prussia in 1806. The Eyewitness Series is published by Frontline, a U.K. military history publisher.