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East Asian

The Bloody White Baron: The Extraordinary Story of the Russian Nobleman Who Became the Last Khan of Mongolia

James Palmer.
Publisher Basic Books  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
ISBN 9780465014484
Pages/Publication Date 274/2009
Daedalus Item Code 21894
This item is not available.
Few modern figures are as sinister and sadistic as Baron Ungern-Sternberg, an Austrian-born nobleman who fought in the Russian Army until the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Beijing-based traveler and historian James Palmer, who won the Spectator's Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for travel writing, gives us a fascinating portrait of the "Mad Baron," an anti-Semitic fanatic whose penchant for Eastern mysticism and hatred of communists foreshadowed the Nazi scourge that would soon overtake Europe. Commanding a force of White Russians, Siberians, Japanese, and native Mongolians, Ungern took the Mongolian capital from the Chinese in 1919, instituting a brutal regime and plotting a Buddhist empire to reconquer Europe as Genghis Khan had done seven centuries earlier.

"What makes The Bloody White Baron so exceptional is Palmer's lucid scholarship, his ability to make perfect sense of the maelstrom of a forgotten war. This is a brilliant book, and I'm already looking forward to his next."—NYTimes

"Ancient and modern savageries unite in the colorful antihero of this scintillating historical study. Baron Ungern-Sternberg (1886–1921) was a czarist officer who became a leader of anti-Bolshevik forces in Siberia during the Russian civil war. He was a staunch monarchist and anti-Semite, whose sadism heightened the brutality of an already vicious conflict. He was pushed by the Red Army into Mongolia, where his reactionary impulses, accentuated by an attraction to esoteric Eastern religions, grew downright medieval. Hailed as a reincarnated god by locals who perhaps mistook him for a prophesied Buddhist messiah, Ungern-Sternberg dreamed of leading an Asian empire against the decadent West and instituted a fleeting dictatorship under which resisters were flogged to death, torn apart or burned alive. Journalist Palmer pens a vivid and slightly wry profile of this larger-than-life figure who rode into battle bare-chested and necklaced with bones, and lucidly dissects Ungern-Sternberg's protofascist worldview, with its motifs of racism, feudal hierarchy, regenerative bloodshed and mystic communion with primitive virility. The result is a fascinating portrait of an appalling man—and of the zeitgeist that shaped him."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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