Monday, July 04, 2011


I am really busy this week. But, I should be able to moderate any comments you want to make on this blog. Consider this post an open thread post if you want.


Walt Richmond said...

I've been reading Mark Bliev's "Rossiia i Bolshoi Kavkaz: V Puti K Tsivilizatsii(!)" for some info on the chapter I'm writing. He quotes James Bell about men "selling" women, and puts it in a passage about the slave trade, and thereby gives the impression that fathers sold their daughters into slavery to be sold at the markets in the Ottoman Empire. But when you look up the passage, Bell is describing marriage arrangements and dowries! Also, while Bliev talks on and on and on about Circassian raids in the 1820s, he doesn't even mention General Vlasov, whose raids into Circassia were so mercenary, indiscriminate and vicious that even Emperor Nicholas denounced him,and the investigation determined that it was Vlasov's raids that triggered Circassian vengeance. But Bliev leaves that out and makes it appear that the Circassians were the aggressors. So what do we do, Otto, when we deal with Russian sources? These are just examples I was able to clarify through my own research, but when a Russian scholar makes a claim and cites an archive in Adygeisk or something like that, how much weight would you give it?

J. Otto Pohl said...


Nice picture, you are looking quite the scholar there with the hair and beard. ;-) As far as how to deal with Russian sources. We read Russian sources especially stuff from archives carefully and in context. This is no different than other sources. Stuff in the Russian archives is not magically true. It is certainly biased and incomplete. Oleg Khlevniuk has a really good discussion of some of the problems of the Soviet era NKVD archives in his book on the Gulag.