Barnes, Hugh 1963–
Barnes, Hugh 1963–
PERSONAL: Born 1963, in London, England; married; children: two. Education: New College, Oxford University, B.A., 1984.
ADDRESSES: Office—Kingston University, River House, 53-57 High St., Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 1LQ, England. E-mail—[email protected] uk.
CAREER: Agence France Presse, Moscow correspondent for three years; former foreign correspondent for the Financial Times, Independent on Sunday, and New Statesman; Kingston University, London, England, senior lecturer.
Special Effects (novel), Faber & Faber (London, England), 1994.
Gannibal: The Moor of Petersburg (novel), Profile (London, England), 2005, also published as The Stolen Prince: Gannibal, Adopted Son of Peter the Great, Great-Grandfather of Alexander Pushkin, and Europe's First Black Intellectual, Ecco (New York, NY), 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: Journalist Hugh Barnes covered the war in Kosovo for the Financial Times, Independent on Sunday, and New Statesman, and the war in Afghanistan for the Sunday Times. In addition to being a war correspondent, Barnes is also a novelist. His Gannibal: The Moor of Petersburg is a work of historical fiction that Russian Life contributor Paul E. Richardson described as "a fantastically great read." History indicates that Abram Petrovich Gannibal, the man also known as Hannibal (in Russian, the "H" is silent), was a Moor who in 1703, at the age of seven, was seized by slave traders, became a servant to the Sultan of Turkey, and then a member of the Russian court in 1705. He was part of Peter the Great's collection of human oddities, but it soon became apparent that Gannibal had a superior intellect. Peter raised and educated him, and Gannibal grew to become a decorated military leader, diplomat, and spy. He married into royalty, and his heirs included Alexander Pushkin, several Mountbattens, and others connected to the British royal family. Gannibal was eventually exiled to Siberia after Peter the Great's death, where he was assigned to build a fort to ward off the Chinese.
Barnes researched the story of Gannibal while working in Russia covering conflicts. "His journalistic intrepidity has come in handy," noted an Observer Online contributor; "the most vivid sections of the book describe a dangerous contemporary quest for traces of Gannibal, which takes Barnes into a no-go zone along a border over which the Ethiopians and Eritreans are fighting, up a river in Chad that reminds him of Mar-low's journey in Heart of Darkness, and across the Siberian tundra along what Chekhov called 'the most absurd road in all the world.'" Barnes also traveled to Cameroon, which he suspects is Gannibal's birthplace.
Peter Gordon reviewed Gannibal for the Guardian Online, writing that it "is in many ways an eye-popping book." Richardson concluded that "this biography of the man Montesquieu called the 'dark star of Russia's enlightenment' is everything one could hope for."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Geographical, September, 2005, Mick Herron, review of Gannibal: The Moor of Petersburg, p. 81.
New Statesman & Society, May 6, 1994, Roz Kaveney, review of Special Effects, p. 38.
Russian Life, November-December, 2005, Paul E. Richardson, review of Gannibal, p. 58.
Guardian Online, http://www.books.guardian.co.uk/ (October 19, 2005), Peter Gordon, review of Gannibal.
Kingston University Web site, http://www.kingston.ac.uk/ (March 2, 2006), brief author biography.
Observer Online, August 14, 2005, review of Gannibal.