1st Edition

The Russian General Staff and Asia, 1860-1917

By Alex Marshall Copyright 2006
    288 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    288 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This new book examines the role of the Tsarist General Staff in studying and administering Russia’s Asian borderlands. It considers the nature of the Imperial Russian state, the institutional characteristics of the General Staff, and Russia’s relationship with Asia.

    During the nineteenth century, Russia was an important player in the so-called ‘Great Game’ in central Asia. Between 1800 and 1917 officers of the Russian General Staff travelled extensively through Turkey, central Asia and the Far East, gathering intelligence that assisted in the formation of future war plans.

    It goes on to consider tactics of imperial expansion, and the role of military intelligence and war planning with respect to important regions including the Caucasus, central Asia and the Far East. In the light of detailed archival research, it investigates objectively questions such as the possibility of Russia seizing the Bosphorus Straits, and the probability of an expedition to India. Overall, this book provides a comprehensive account of the Russian General Staff, its role in Asia, and of Russian military planning with respect to a region that remains highly strategically significant today.

    Introduction  1. Imperial Russia and the Asian Frontier  2. The Russian State, the Russian General Staff and Asia, 1714-1885: Philosophies of Rule, Institutions and Personnel  3. The Emergence of a Colonial Military Élite: Prince Bariatinskii and the Asian Geopolitical Debate in Russia, 1856-1898  4. Tactics of Expansion, 1714-1885  5. China, Europe and the ‘Yellow Peril’: Far Eastern War Plans, 1871-1914  6. The Caucasus  7. The Russian General Staff and Central Asia  8. The Last Days of the Asiatic Department  9. Conclusion  10. Bibliography


    Alex Marshall teaches at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London. He graduated from SSEES at the University of London and from Glasgow University; and has taught at both Glasgow and Dundee Universities, and served as a visiting fellow with the CEP organization at the Buriat State University in Ulan Ude. His research interests include modern Russian and Asian military and political history, Muslim political thought, and military counter-insurgency.

    'The authors ably demonstrate that the focus is topical, can be intellectually stimulating, and deserves attention from different branches of human geography' - Adam Weaver, Victoria University of Wellington

    "This is...an important contribution to the fields of tsarist military history, Russian imperialism, and particularly, intelligence studies. Written with clarity and dexterity, it presents the regional specialist with a well-documented and focused picture of the evolution of the Russian military thought in the minds of Russia's own Asianist cadre." Jennifer Siegel, The Slavic Review, Vol. 67, No. 1, Spring 2008


    'Alex Marshall's intellectual and historical interpretation of the theme, the depth of his research and the freshness of his approach all serve to make this book a major academic work and an important contribution to the study of the Imperial Russian Army. Well-written in a lively literary manner, this serious scholarly work is also very easy to read.' - Mikahail Baskhanov, Asian Affairs, March 2008