The Career of a Tsarist Officer: Memoirs, 1872-1916
by Anton I. Denikin
edited by Margaret Patoski
University of Minnesota Press, 1975
Paper: 978-0-8166-5740-7


The Career of a Tsarist Officer was first published in 1975. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

General Anton I. Denikin served as an officer in the Russian army throughout a notable career until 1920 when, as commander in chief of the White Russian armies, he was forced to flee from Bolshevik forces at Novorossiisk. In these memoirs, which cover his childhood, youth, and military service up to 1916, we have an unusually candid autobiography and one which illuminates some little-known aspects of Russian social as well as military history.

General Denikin was born in 1872 in the Warsaw province of Russian Poland. He was a graduate of the prestigious General Staff Academy in St. Petersburg, and during his years at the academy he launched a literary career which continued for the rest of his life, enabling him to support his family in their later exile.

Distinguished service in the Russo-Japanese War earned his promotion to colonel in the army, and from that time in 1905 to his tragic fate in 1920 when he left Russia never to return, he served his country with a deep and abiding loyalty, matched only by his devotion to the Orthodox religion. After living in exile in several European countries, principally in France, he moved in 1945 to the United States, where he died in 1947.

The present volume is a translation from the Russian-language edition which was published in 1953 by the Chekhov Publishing house in New York. In this, General Denikin's last work, he provides the social and intellectual background for an understanding of the traits of the Russian officer corps which enabled them to continue the fight for a unified, non-Bolshevik Russia even after the tsar was dead and the cause obviously lost. Through Denikin's eyes one sees also a revealing picture of the efforts of Russo-Japanese War participants to renovate the Russian army in the interwar period, their recognition of the growing threat from Germany as well as from the revolutionaries, and the futility they felt as they entered prematurely into World War I.

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