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Reading Book Guide

The Russian Officer Corps in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1792-1815, by Alexander Mikaberidze.

The Russian Office Corps contains 800 detailed biographies of the senior Russian officers who commanded troops in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, as well as an introductory chapter describing the organization of the Russian military, how it was trained, the educational and cultural background of the officer corps, and its awards and their history and meaning. We hope these thought-provoking questions lead to some lively book discussions.

  1. Compare the Russian military education system to the French, British, Prussia and Austrian systems. Was it really as deficient as many claim, or did it reflect a general weakness of military education at that time?
  2. Discuss the conflict in the Russian command in 1812. What does this event reveal about the Russian army and its officers?
  3. Discuss social composition, including educational and cultural background, of the officer corps and contrast it to the French.
  4. Discuss the Russian officer recruitment system and its loopholes. How does it compare to the French or British systems?
  5. Using the Orders of Battle and the data in the book, create a comparative table of Russian commanders in any given battle and study their military education and experience. Start with the Russian commanders at the Battle of Austerlitz (1805).
  6. Compare biographies of Bagration, Barclay de Tolly, Kutuzov, Wittgenstein, and Tormasov. Who is the best overall commander? Who is better on the tactical level?
  7. Were the Russian generals as competent as their French counterparts? Prussian? Austrian? Compare and contrast.
  8. Peter the Great's Table of Ranks endured for almost two hundred years. Was it an effective system? How was it changed overtime?