Another war which went wrong...

BURTSEV, Vladimir Lvovich

Tsar i vneshniaia politika. Vinovniki russko-iaponskoi voiny

[The Tsar and Foreign Affairs. The Culprits of the Russo-Japanese War]

Publication: Eberhard Frowein Verlag, Berlin, 1910.

BURTSEV, Vladimir Lvovich, Tsar i vneshniaia politika. Vinovniki russko-iaponskoi voiny

Great denunciation of the catastrophy for Russia of the war against Japan. A pre-revolutionary publication banned in tsarist Russia.

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Our Notes & References

Vladimir L. Burtsev (1862-1942) was a Russian publicist and publisher who earned the nickname of a “Sherlock Holmes of the Russian Revolution” for his revelations of provocateurs and agents of the Russian political police. During his long life, he fought against Tsarism, Bolshevism and Nazism and was thus on special watch at Scotland Yard (for terror propaganda against the tsar in the early 1900s), the GPU (for radical calls for unification against the Soviets after the October Revolution) and the Gestapo (for his remarkable denunciation of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” as hoax in the 1930s).

Burtsev’s work presents 39 documents (some slightly abridged and summarised by the author) on negotiations with Japan in 1903-1904 from the so-called “Malinovaia Kniga” [Crimson Book]. According to Burtsev, these documents were secretly printed in 400 copies and sent out only to the most prominent statesmen by the Special Committee of the Far East when the outcome of the war was already clear. Among these documents is the correspondence of Nicholas II with his “favourites” from outside the ministry of foreign affairs, including the letter where the tsar writes his permission to attack without waiting for the Japanese to fire first. Burtsev also adds a secret note by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Lamsdorff to Nicholas II about the “Malinovaia Kniga” and its immediate confiscation. Apparently, Burtsev obtained a large part of these documents when he illegally returned to Russia in 1905 (previously, he was arrested in Russia in 1885, escaped and emigrated to Europe).

He notes in the preface: “Much has been written all over the world about the Russo-Japanese War and its outbreak, but in Russia itself no one has yet had the opportunity to speak openly about the truth about what caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives for the country, the loss of billions of roubles, and the fall of national prestige. The conditions are the same today as they were back then: the truth about Russia can only be exposed abroad” (our translation).

It appears that the book had two printings at the Eberhard Frowein Verlag the same year; the other one has a slightly different title page and wrappers but otherwise is identical to the present edition.


Avenir Nizoff (émigré, pianist, who lived in Edmonton, Canada, in the second half of the 20th century, and gathered a large, wide-ranging library of Russian works, especially covering art, history and literature).


Budnitskii O. V. Politicheskie deiateli Rossii 1917. Biograficheskii slovar. Moskva, 1993.

Budnitskii O. V. Vladimir Burtsev i ego korrespondenty // Otechestvennaia istoriia. Moskva, Nauka, 1992, N 6. Vladimir Burcev i ego korrespondenty. Sostavitelʹ O. V. Budnickij.

Frolov, Ivan. Russko-Iaponskaia voina 1904-1905 gg. v otechestvennoi istoriografii 1904-1917 gg. Moskva, Voennyi Universitet, 2018.

Lukoianov, Igor. Poslednie russko-iaponskie peregovory pered voinoi 1904-1905 (vzgliad is Rossii). Acta Slavica Iaponica, Tomus 23, pp. 1-36.

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Physical Description

Octavo (19 x 12.8 cm). 80 pp. incl. title and t.o.c.


Original publisher’s wrappers preserved under later white cloth spine over brown cloth boards, flat spine.


Corners minimally rubbed; ownership inscription on title scrubbed with a small tear, occasional very minor foxing.

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