Britain and the Last Tsar is a fundamental re-interpretation of British foreign and defence policy before the First World War. The current orthodoxy asserts that the rise of an aggressive and powerful Germany forced Britain - a declining power - to abandon her traditional policy of avoiding alliances and to enter into alliance with Japan (1902), France (1904), and Russia (1907) in order to contain the German menace. In a controversial rejection of this theory, Keith Neilson argues that Britain was the pre-eminent world power in 1914 and that Russia, not Germany, was the principal long-term threat to Britain's global position. This original and important study shows that only by examining Anglo-Russian relations and eliminating an undue emphasis on Anglo-German affairs can an accurate picture of Britain's foreign and defence policy before 1914 be gained.
About the author
Keith Neilson is the author of a number of articles on British military history and Anglo-Russian relations. He is an associate professor at the Royal Military College of Canada and the author of Strategy and Supply: The Anglo-Russian Alliance 1914–17 (London, 1984).
'students of later Imperial Russia will ... learn much from the book ... Neilson's excellent book will certainly long remain much the most balanced, informative and well-written survey of British policy and attitudes towards Russia in this period. In addition, there is much in which to delight and chuckle as he cites British elite views (dry, witty and arrogant) on Russia and its place in Britain's world ... a careful and thorough researcher.' Dominic Lieven, London School of Economics, The Slavonic Review
'A book of this nature inevitably requires the concentration of the reader, but it is written with as much clarity as the subject matter allows and Keith Neilson rarely stumbles in either fact or interpretation.' Victor Rothwell, University of Edinburgh, The Historical Association
'Neilson's book complements very well the work of Ian Nish on Anglo-Japanese relations, of P.M. Kennedy on Anglo-German relations, and of L.K. Young and E.W. Edwards on Anglo-Chinese relations, and adds new dimensions to the ground covered by David Gillard in The Struggle for Asia 1828-1914. It is a large step in the right direction.' Keith Wilson, University of Leeds, Canadian Journal of History, XXXI, December 1996
'The strength of this book is in Neilson's skillful portrayal of Anglo-Russian relations ... Britain and the Last Tsar is a needed contribution to our understanding of Anglo-Russian relations.' Thomas Pierce, Boston College, History, Fall 1996