The Russian Advance towards India


The Russian Advance towards India is based on a series of interviews conducted by English author Charles Thomas Marvin in Saint Petersburg in March 1882, a year after the Russian conquest of the fortress of Geok-Tepe and the incorporation of Akhal (present-day Ahal, Turkmenistan) into the Russian Empire. The most prominently featured individual in the book is General Mikhail Dmitrievich Skobelev (1843‒82), a hero of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877‒78 and the Russian commander at Geok-Tepe. Other interviewees include the diplomat and official Count Nikolai Pavlovich Ignatiev (1832–1908), Baron Osten-Sacken of the Asiatic Department of the Russian Foreign Office, the diplomat and scholar of international law Friedrich Fromhold Martens (also known as Fedor Fedorovich Martens, 1845‒1909), and other military and civilian officials. Marvin expresses complex and ambivalent attitudes toward Russia, whose policies in Central Asia he generally defends as posing no threat to British interests. He admires Skobelev but, in perhaps the most remarkable passage of the book, recounts the general’s admission to him that his troops slaughtered 8,000 Turkmen men and women, and his observation that “in Asia the duration of peace is in direct proportion to the slaughter you inflict upon the enemy.” Skobelev was later removed from his command because of the massacre. Marvin was a writer and briefly a Foreign Office staff member who had lived many years in Russia, initially with his father, who was employed in Saint Petersburg, and later as correspondent for a British newspaper. His trip to Russia in 1882 was sponsored by the Newcastle Daily Chronicle.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

S. Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington, London


Title in Original Language

The Russian advance towards India

Type of Item

Physical Description

338 pages : maps ; 24 centimeters


  1. G.C. Boase, revised by Chandrika Kaul, “Marvin, Charles Thomas (1854‒1890)’ in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Last updated: September 30, 2016