The Marquis de Custine's unique perspective on a vast, fascinating country in the grip of oppressive tyranny. In 1839, encouraged by his friend Balzac, Custine set out to explore Russia. His impressions turned into what is perhaps the greatest and most influential of all books about Russia under the Tsars. Rich in anecdotes as much about the court of Tsar Nicholas as the streets of St Petersburg, Custine is as brilliant writing about the Kremlin as he is about the great northern landscapes. An immediate bestseller on publication, Custine's book is also a central book for any discussion of 19th century history, as - like de Tocqueville's Democracy in America - it dramatizes far broader questions about the nature of government and society.