Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Peter B. Putnam’s Peter, the Revolutionary Tsar is much more than simply the life story of an interesting and influential historical figure. Putnam attempts, with some success, to re-create for his readers a time and place far removed from modern Western society. Without the author’s careful explanations, most readers would never understand the primitive nature of Russian society during Peter the Great’s life, the superstition that dominated the lives of his contemporaries, the harshness of the Russian climate, or the many other factors that made up seventeenth and eighteenth century Russia. Without an understanding of the milieu in which Peter lived and the problems that he faced in trying to modernize his country, an understanding of his life and significance for history is impossible.

Putnam opens his account of Peter’s life with a brief sketch of Peter’s father, Alexis I, his immediate family, and the intrigues surrounding Peter’s ascension to the throne. Through this account, the reader will learn much about Russian society at the time, including the nature of Russian Christianity, marriage customs, caste differences, industry, agriculture, military and diplomatic affairs, and autocratic government. Putnam also provides considerable detail concerning the influence on Peter of a large Western community located near the small town where Peter spent much of his childhood and of Peter’s celebrated trip to Poland, Holland, England,...

(The entire section is 500 words.)