A History of Catherine the Great’s Southern Empire
Imprint: Yale University Press
Russia’s long-standing claims to Crimea date back to the eighteenth-century reign of Catherine II. Historian Kelly O’Neill has written the first archive-based, multi-dimensional study of the initial “quiet conquest” of a region that has once again moved to the forefront of international affairs. O’Neill traces the impact of Russian rule on the diverse population of the former khanate, which included Muslim, Christian, and Jewish residents. She discusses the arduous process of establishing the empire’s social, administrative, and cultural institutions in a region that had been governed according to a dramatically different logic for centuries. With careful attention to how officials and subjects thought about the spaces they inhabited, O’Neill’s work reveals the lasting influence of Crimea and its people on the Russian imperial system, and sheds new light on the precarious contemporary relationship between Russia and the famous Black Sea peninsula.
“A remarkably eloquent work of scholarship.”—Choice
“If historians are to be of service in helping to understand the dilemmas of the present by illuminating the past, O’Neill has made a significant contribution.”—George E. Munro, Russian Review
"This is a gracefully written study . . . [O'Neill's] sensitivity to the human stories behind the history and landscape of Crimea . . . brings her impressive scholarly analysis to life. A must read by all who want to further understand the intricate workings of Russian empire building."—Barbara Skinner, Slavic Review
“O’Neill’s book is a rare case in the field of Russian Studies of a twenty-first century approach toward academic writing: her narrative is complemented by a beautiful webpage called Beautiful Spaces with a number of visualizations, almost all of which are available for downloading. One hopes that other authors will follow O’Neill’s example.”—Anton Kotenko, Harvard Ukranian Studies
"In this imaginative and beautifully written study, Kelly O'Neill delves into the little-known history of Russian imperial expansion in the Crimea to offer a fresh view of imperialism. The story she tells is one of grand ideas and epic conflict but also of myriad mundane deals and local arrangements, all of them shaped by the complex human and natural environments of the peninsula."—Willard Sunderland, author of The Baron's Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution