Owing to the success of 'Old Rowley' DW's publisher, Hutchinson , were urging him to write another biography; unfortunately he couldn't think of a character that he admired sufficiently to write a book about.
It eventually occurred to him to write about a man that most people in the UK had never heard about. His name was Klementy Voroshilov.
The book was called 'Red Eagle'
Voroshilov seems to have had a plethora of qualities; he was a born leader and yet would get down and fight with his men whenever necessary (and sometimes against them if required).
He could communicate with all people at all levels and was an inspiration to the majority of people he came into contact with including some of the people he was fighting against.
For more details of this amazing man you may wish to click on the attached. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kliment_Voroshilov
One of the greatest events in modern world history was the Russian Revolution.
"More people lost their lives owing to it than in World I and II put together"
The book starts by giving the details of Russia?s formation and brief details of the men who shaped it.
Apparently, the Vikings who sailed the unknown seas to America were equally hardy travellers by land in the ninth century, for they founded the two great cities of Novgorod and Kiev and were responsible for forming the nucleus of what was afterwards to become known as Russia.
Three brothers who came out of Sweden were part of the influx and after one of them Rurik, it is said, the land became known as Russia.
DW's story of Russia continues through great names such as;
Jenghis Khan (Not Ghengis as I know it to be spelt)
Kublai Khan (Kubla Khan?)
The second chapter is basically a paragraph-by-paragraph explanation of the major events that occurred in Russia from the mid 1500's to the start of 1900's.
There is a distinct lack of dialogue in this chapter and generally in the book.
As I reported in my 'Old Rowley' review, it reminds me of some of my early school teachers who would try to cram our heads with such a barrage of 'potentially fascinating information' in such a boring monotone way that it tended to induce something of a soporific effect.
Voroshilov based on a Roger Brook type character could make a real blockbuster of a story or film. (Film producers please take note!!)
Chapter 3 introduces greater details of Voroshilov's background and the introduction of Lenin and Stalin.
Chapter 4 starts to get interesting because DW writes the story of his rise to fame and the revolutionary plot of the downtrodden peasants and how they revolt against the authorities. DW can certainly write stories.
However, on June 28th, 1914, the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the heir-apparent to the Austrian empire, was assassinated by a Serbian anarchist in Sarajevo.
The Austrian government accused the Serbian Government of instigating the murder, pressed for satisfaction and, in spite of Serbia's almost entire compliance with its demands, declared war on July 28th.
Russia mobilised on July 30th in support of her small ally Serbia. Germany took the Russian mobilisation as a threat against herself, and, on August 1st, declared war against Russia. The Germans also moved against France and notified the Belgians of their intention to march through their territory. The Belgians refused to permit this and, with France, called upon Britain to acknowledge her treaty obligations.
Germany refused to withdraw their troops from Belgian soil and so Great Britain declared war upon Germany at 1.00on the night of August 4th 1914.
The book then takes up the activities of the War and the politics and troop movements that affected everybody.
There was a definite slackening of revolutionary activity by the majority of the people owing to a widespread patriotic feeling that it was unfair to stab the Russian government in the back now that War had broken out. Now all its energies were needed to conduct an enormous campaign.
This doesn't mean that the Revolutionary Bolsheviks totally stopped their activities.
They did not disguise their intention of confiscating the property of the rich, looting, killing and performing the most horrible atrocities upon members of the upper classes in every part of the new Soviet State with the intention of utterly uprooting the capitalist system.
Although I prefer DW's fiction to his historical 'non fiction' books I am really pleased that I now know of Voroshilov and his exploits.
A few observations.
Voroshilov' wife was Catherina Davydovna, a ballet dancer.
I'm was wondering whether DW may have been influenced by these people when writing The Forbidden Territory, as Simon Aaron becomes romantically involved with Valeria Petrovna Karkoff from the Moscow Arts Theatre.
The Duke de Reichleau (as it was then) tells Simon "..that friendship (Simon and Valeria) can most certainly do us no harm. The famous artistes are as powerful (in Russia) now as they ever were-more so, perhaps. It is always so after a revolution; the one thing the people will not allow the dictators to interfere with is their amusements.
The most powerful Kommissar would hesitate before offending a prima donna or a ballerina!."
On page 234 Red Eagle (Lymington Hardback) DW states that, ".Somewhere in the little known northern wastes of the great dessert of Gobi (Mongolia), that strange romantic country beyond which lie the mountains of James Hilton's Lost Horizon".
I think DW got this mixed up, as James Hilton book relates to a plane crash in Northern India and the survivors trek into the Himalayas (Tibet?) where four travellers find a Monastery called Shangri-la.
Later in the book, the monastery has sent out a rescue party and the four travellers arrive in safety at Shangri-La and are astonished to find civilized amenities, warmth, and enlightened conversation. The overall feel of the book up to this point, about one-third of the way through the book, has been consistent with the lost-world adventure story, in which a group of travellers arrive at some remote location in the world and discover a lost civilization of some kind. Doyle's The Lost World is one of the most famous examples of this genre, and it has the most apropos name;
We now classify three of DW's books as Lost World books, 'They Found Atlantis' , 'Uncharted Sea's? and 'The man who missed the war' .
So we have a three way 'Lost world connection' with James Hilton (DW's friend) and Conan Doyle who DW greatly admired.