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Willard Sunderland "Journeys with Baron Ungern: Empire and Bibliography in the Russian Revolution"

On October 15, 2015 Dr. Willard Sunderland gave a lecture entitled, "Journeys with Baron Ungern: Empire and Bibliography in the Russian Revolution," at Woodburn Hall, Indiana University in Bloomington. This was put on by the Horizons of Knowledge Lecture Fund and hosted by the History Department, REEI, and IAUNRC. Dr. Sunderland has a doctorate from IU and is Associate Professor of History at the University of Cincinnati.

Dr. Sunderland’s talk focused on his recent book The Baron’s Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution about the life of Baron Ungern (who, in 1921 led a military campaign to conquer Mongolia and reestablish the Romanov and Qing dynasties). According to Dr. Sunderland, his interest in the Baron Ungern was, in part, because of the narratives that dismissed the Baron and all his repulsive characteristics (such as anti-Semitism) as the result of pure and simple madness. Dr. Sunderland argues that the seemingly disconnected and incongruent aspects of the baron’s performance as a leader make sense when put within the fragmented situation of the end of the Russian empire. (Ironically, the baron wanted to reestablish the very Russian empire within which he had failed to succeed).

Dr. Sunderland takes a micro-historical inspired approach to the life of the baron, who never wrote about himself, and until the last six months of his life no one else wrote about him - other than the dedicated recordkeeping of military bureaucracy. Largely a silent figure in history, the baron became a perfect candidate for a microhistory approach, focusing on the particular in order to draw conclusions about the particular’s broader context.

Follow this link to listen to the IAUNRC podcast of the event.