Get a FREE Books of the Moment  sampler!
Check Out These
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
See the List
Best Seller
The House of the Dead by Daniel Beer

The House of the Dead

The House of the Dead by Daniel Beer
Jan 03, 2017 | 496 Pages
See All Formats (3) +
  • Paperback $16.00

    Dec 12, 2017 | 512 Pages

  • Hardcover $35.00

    Jan 03, 2017 | 496 Pages

  • Ebook $14.99

    Jan 03, 2017 | 496 Pages

Buy the Audiobook Download:

Product Details


“Impressive…a history with the sort of granular details that make the terror of the “very name ‘Siberia’” so vividly, so luridly clear.”
–Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times Book Review

“The definitive work in English on this enormous topic…Mr. Beer devotes 80 pages to a fascinating new account of the Decembrists that soberly delves into their tensions and personal weaknesses…[and he] argues persuasively for a direct line between their story and the role played by the exile system in the eventual fall of the czars…As a result of his work deep in Siberian archives, there is much that is new here.”
–Bartle Bull, The Wall Street Journal

“[A] thorough and sober history of the tsars’ brutal 19th-century penal colonies.”
–Bob Blaisdell, The Christian Science Monitor

“Beer gracefully brings to life the immensely rich and tragic history of Siberia…In this lush mosaic laced together with fluent prose, [he] profiles prisoners of all sorts, narrating their ordeals and the stomach-turning punishments they endured.”
Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs

“An elucidating study of Russia’s far-flung penal system…Beer ably shows how educated dissidents…transformed Siberia from a political wasteland into a crucible of the nascent Russian revolutionary movement. An eye-opening, haunting work that delineates how a vast imperial penal system crumbled from its rotten core.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Enlightening…meticulously researched…dense with memorable anecdotes and images…Beer details the systemic incompetence of the penal administration and the brutal physical punishments inflicted on exiles, as well as the violence that escaped convicts unleashed on the indigenous population…[and] shows that populating and cultivating the resource-rich expanse east of the Ural Mountains was a test that the czars failed spectacularly.”
Publisher’s Weekly 

Praise from the United Kingdom:

“[A] masterly new history of the tsarist exile system…Mr Beer’s book makes a compelling case for placing Siberia right at the centre of 19th-century Russian—and, indeed, European—history. But for students of Soviet and even post-Soviet Russia it holds lessons, too. Many of the country’s modern pathologies can be traced back to this grand tsarist experiment—to its tensions, its traumas and its abject failures.”
—The Economist 
“Beer’s fascinating book teems with human detail…By bringing the voices of the million-plus victims of katorga vividly to life…The House of the Dead tells the story of how modern Russia was born among the squalor, the cockroaches and the casual violence of the world’s largest open-air prison.”
—Owen Matthews, The Spectator
“A superb history of the [Russian] exile system…a splendid example of academic scholarship for a public audience. Though [Beer] is an impressively calm and sober narrator, the injustices and atrocities pile up on every page.”
—Dominic Sandbrook, The Sunday Times
“Ground-breaking…moving…[A] deeply humane account of the way the tsars used Siberia as a giant open-air prison. Beer’s account uses both the telescope and the microscope. He sketches out the broad parameters of tsarist policy, as well as detailing the lives of individual exiles. Although Beer’s subject is grim, his writing is not. Grace notes of metaphor elevate The House of the Dead above standard histories.”
—Oliver Bullough, The Telegraph
“An expansive work that neatly manages to combine a broad history of the Romanovs’ Gulag with heart-rending tales of the plights of individual prisoners. With admirable insight and sensitivity, [Beer] has rescued from the obscurity of archives in Tobolsk and Irkutsk a number of remarkable individual stories.”
—Douglas Smith Literary Review

Looking for More Great Reads?
Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now
Back to Top