1847: the Russian liberal Alexander Herzen and his family leave Moscow on a short-term permit, become embroiled in the revolution of 1848 in Paris and, unable to return to Tsarist Russia, are condemned to permanent exile. As they move from one European country to another, their lives are punctuated by romance and illusion, intrigue and adultery.
Through a series of perfectly executed pen portraits, Carr brings to life a fascinating group of liberal propagandists, exiled anarchists, dissident aristocrats and – inevitably – the occasional police spy, and their conspiratorial entanglements. He allows Herzen to take centre stage, although the actors themselves gave this honour to Mikhail Bakunin, 'the father of Russian anarchism' and the most charismatic figure in this extraordinary tale. This is also a story of financial skulduggery and personal tragedy for almost everyone involved as Romantic ideals – personal, political and philosophical – crumble in the face of the rise of nationalism across Europe.
'Remarkable' The Times
'Outstanding' Norman Stone
'Brilliant' London Review of Books
'Required reading' New York Times
'Our most distinguished historian' The Spectator