- Vospominaniia general-fel´dmarshala grafa Dmitriia Alekseevicha Miliutina [The Memoirs of Field-Marshal Count Dmitrii Alekseevich Miliutin]
In November 1911, the Nicholas Imperial Military Academy celebrated the 75th anniversary of the graduation of its most famous student, Dmitrii Alekseevich Miliutin (1816–1912), Alexander II's influential minister of war. Count Miliutin was still alive, living out his days in the Crimea; and so the academy decided to send a delegation to him with a warm letter of appreciation. Miliutin came to his guests in a housecoat, complaining he could no longer squeeze into his uniform. He listened impatiently to their letter (which took nearly an hour to read) and then whisked them into his gigantic library, the core of which he had inherited from his illustrious administrative predecessor—and uncle—Pavel Dmitrievich Kiselev (1788–1872). There, in the presence of his daughters, he informed the delegation that he intended to leave this library, his equally copious personal archive, and a large set of memoirs to the academy, to do with as it sought fit. He hoped the school would publish what he somewhat casually called the "remembrances of an old man" (moi starcheskie vospominaniia).1 Having served as minister for nearly 20 years, he spent the next 20 years reconstructing his life using his library and vast personal correspondence, leading some in his circles to speculate he was writing an inside history of Alexander II's reign. In the end, Miliutin's "remembrances" ran to 32 volumes of closely written notebooks, [End Page 252] or roughly 3,500 pages of printed text in this marvelous edition, now complete at seven volumes.2
Heretofore, Miliutin's memoirs have had a checkered publication history. Obeying Miliutin's wishes, the Imperial Military Academy struggled throughout the 1910s to publish his notebooks. First the project was hampered by the court and then by World War I. In the end, it took the academy's flight to Tomsk in 1918 to break the book loose. (Miliutin's White editors note with bitter irony that the "whirlwind of revolution created at least one extremely important precondition for this edition," namely "the absence of all censorship, and especially that of the court.")3 Yet that same whirlwind then swallowed up the Tomsk government, and with it the Imperial Military Academy, before any more volumes could be published. In the 1940s, Petr Andreevich Zaionchkovskii published Miliutin's diaries from the late 1870s (by then in the hands of the Lenin Library in Moscow), leaving the memoirs for later. His American student W. Bruce Lincoln republished the Tomsk volume—covering the early years of Miliutin's life, 1816–43—in the United States in the late 1970s; and now the distinguished Moscow historian Larisa Georgievna Zakharova has finally completed the gargantuan labor of publishing the rest.4 When the first volume of Zakharova's edition first appeared in 1997, the late Daniel Field rightly praised it as an "elegant and exemplary publication."5 The volumes published since have all been produced to the same high scholarly standard, with extensive editorial commentary and thorough, biographically informative indices. Necessitated by Miliutin's own formidable attention to detail, these commentaries themselves amount to an encyclopedia of mid-19th-century Eurasian power politics, ranging in their reference from the empire of Napoleon III to the emirate of Bukhara.
Now that Miliutin's memoirs have seen the light of day, what news do they offer historians? Thanks to Zaionchkovskii and his many scholarly disciples, the state apparatus that Miliutin inhabited in the mid-19th century—the Russian military and...