Cultural historian Jonathan Miles has a personal engagement with St Petersburg and its people that dates back to the Soviet era. Born in a trunk, Jonathan has been travelling ever since and currently lives in Paris. Having taken a first from University College, London, he received his doctorate from Jesus College, Oxford. Early books include studies of British artists Eric Gill and David Jones. Most recently, Medusa, The Shipwreck, the Scandal and the Masterpiece, a voyage through the artistic, political and moral clashes of Restoration France, and Nine Lives of Otto Katz, the tale of a flamboyant Soviet spy, were both published to international acclaim.
"'This extraordinary book brings to life an astonishing place. Beautiful prose renders brutality vivid.' " -- Gerard DeGroot * The Times - BOOK OF THE WEEK * "So fluent, so textured is Jonathan Miles's ease with prose and argument that his vivid dissection of 300 years of St Petersburg's history should be devoured in captive sittings... Investigating the artistic life of St Petersburg, he also explores the melodrama and blood on the streets and the effects of continuing political disarray and corruption on ordinary people. This is a storyteller entranced with his subject, who makes its brilliant portrayal look deliriously easy." -- Susan Sheahan * Guardian * "[A] lively and entertaining biography... full of sparkling storytelling and well drawn characters... a delight." -- Victor Sebestyen * The Sunday Times * "Jonathan Miles's cinematic telling of the 300-year history of ... St Petersburg shows how the drama, the absurdity, the splendour and the squalor of the imperial capital all found their way into Russia's finest s, operas and paintings... Miles peels back the layers of myth in which the city is swaddled, while never losing sight of its haunting grace." -- Daniel Beer * Observer * "Recently there has been a plethora of new books on Russian history in all its guises, ... so why more? Jonathan Miles' narrative is a lot of more, ... His history has a substantial foundation, but what makes it special is the sheer inescapable momentum of Miles's prose, powered by the captivating intensity of his attachment to his subject. This is a story told by a writer enthralled - and disillusioned, as he sees no redemption in sight... A dazzling history of a dazzling city." -- Marina Vaizey * The Arts Desk * "Many turbulent episodes richly brought to life in this panoramic study" * Event, Mail on Sunday *