St. Petersburg: Madness, Murder, and Art on the Banks of the Neva, by by Jonathan Miles

St. Petersburg: Madness, Murder, and Art on the Banks of the Neva, by by Jonathan Miles

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From Peter the Great to Putin, this is the unforgettable story of St Petersburg—one of the most magical, menacing, and influential cities in the world.

St. Petersburg has always felt like an impossible metropolis, risen from the freezing mists and flooded marshland of the River Neva on the western edge of Russia. It was a new capital in an old country. Established in 1703 by the sheer will of Peter the Great, its dazzling yet unhinged reputation was quickly cemented by the sadistic dominion of its early rulers. This city, in its successive incarnations—St. Petersburg, Petrograd, Leningrad and, once again, St. Petersburg—has always been a place of perpetual contradiction.

It was a window to Europe and the Enlightenment, but so much of Russia’s unique glory was also created here: its literature, music, dance and, for a time, its political vision. Yet, for all its glittering palaces, fairytale balls and enchanting gardens, the blood of thousands has been spilt on its snow-filled streets.


In St. Petersburg, Jonathan Miles recreates the drama of three hundred years in this paradoxical and brilliant city, bringing us up to the present day, when its fate hangs in the balance once more.

This is an epic tale of murder, massacre and madness played out against squalor and splendour, and an unforgettable portrait of a city and its people.