DANIEL BEER is senior lecturer in the Department of History at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has written widely on nineteenth-century Russia and is the author of Renovating Russia: The Human Sciences and the Fate of Liberal Modernity, 1880-1930.
Beer gracefully brings to life the immensely rich and tragic history of Siberia In this lush mosaic laced together with fluent prose, [he] profiles prisoners of all sorts, narrating their ordeals and the stomach-turning punishments they endured. <b><b><i> </i></b>Robert Legvold, <i>Foreign Affairs</i> </b> An elucidating study of Russia s far-flung penal system Beer ably shows how educated dissidents transformed Siberia from a political wasteland into a crucible of the nascent Russian revolutionary movement. An eye-opening, haunting work that delineates how a vast imperial penal system crumbled from its rotten core. <b><i><b> </b>Kirkus</i> <i>Reviews</i></b> Enlightening meticulously researched dense with memorable anecdotes and images Beer details the systemic incompetence of the penal administration and the brutal physical punishments inflicted on exiles, as well as the violence that escaped convicts unleashed on the indigenous population [and] shows that populating and cultivating the resource-rich expanse east of the Ural Mountains was a test that the czars failed spectacularly. <b><b> </b>Publisher s Weekly</b> Praise from the United Kingdom: [A]masterly new history of the tsarist exile system...Mr Beer s book makes a compelling case for placing Siberia right at the centre of 19th-century Russian and, indeed, European history. But for students of Soviet and even post-Soviet Russia it holds lessons, too. Many of the country s modern pathologies can be traced back to this grand tsarist experiment to its tensions, its traumas and its abject failures. <b><i> The Economist</i></b> <b></b> <b></b> Beer s fascinating book teems with human detail By bringing the voices of the million-plus victims of katorga vividly to life <i>The House of the Dead</i> tells the story of how modern Russia was born among the squalor, the cockroaches and the casual violence of the world s largest open-air prison. <b> Owen Matthews, <i>The Spectator</i></b> <b></b> <b></b> A superb history of the [Russian] exile system a splendid example of academic scholarship for a public audience. Though [Beer] is an impressively calm and sober narrator, the injustices and atrocities pile up on every page. <b> Dominic Sandbrook, <i>The Sunday Times</i></b> <b></b> <b></b> Ground-breaking moving [A] deeply humane account of the way the tsars used Siberia as a giant open-air prison. Beer s account uses both the telescope and the microscope. He sketches out the broad parameters of tsarist policy, as well as detailing the lives of individual exiles. Although Beer s subject is grim, his writing is not. Grace notes of metaphor elevate <i>The House of the Dead</i> above standard histories. <b> Oliver Bullough, <i>The Telegraph</i></b> <b></b> Excellent...an expansive work that neatly manages to combine a broad history of the Romanovs' Gulag with heart-rending tales of the plights of individual prisoners. With admirable insight and sensitivity, [Beer] has rescued from the obscurity of archives in Tobolsk and Irkutsk a number of remarkable individual stories. <b> Douglas Smith<i>Literary Review</i></b>