Bruce W. Menning, Bayonets Before Bullets: The Imperial Russian Army, 1861-1914 (1992)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

This unique book has never gotten the broad recognition it deserves. The finest available study of the late-czarist Russian army as an institution, it analyzes bureaucratic and cultural problems that continue to afflict Russian forces today. Again and again, brilliant commanders “far from the flagpole” made up for institutional mediocrity until, by the dawn of the 20th century, political favoritism suffocated competence and the army that had liberated the Balkans and conquered Central Asia suffered one stunning defeat after another, from Mukden to Tannenberg. This study of Russian arms between the aftermath of the Crimean War and the outbreak of WWI is far more relevant in the era of Vladimir Putin than yet another tome on the “Great Patriotic War.”


Ralph Peters is the author of thirty-three books, including works on strategy and security affairs, as well as best-selling, prize-winning novels. He has published more than a thousand columns, articles, and essays here and abroad. As a U.S. Army enlisted man and career officer, he served in Infantry and military intelligence units before becoming a foreign area officer for the dying Soviet Union and the new Russia. As a soldier, journalist, and researcher, he has experience in more than seventy countries, covering various wars and trouble spots. His historical fiction won the American Library Association's Boyd Award for Literary Excellence an unprecedented three times and also received the Herodotus Award and the Hammett Prize. Additionally, he was the 2015 recipient of the Goodpaster Award, presented each year to a distinguished American soldier-scholar. In 2017, he was selected for the U.S. Army’s Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame.