The great Russian historian, S.М. Soloviev, regarded Patrick Gordon as “one of the most remarkable men” ever employed by the tsars, and was grateful to him for “recording his adventures and existence day by day, leaving to us curious tidings of himself, of his brothers in arms, and of Russia before the age of transformation” – and much else besides. Passages from the Diary were published in 1859. Now, 150 years on, the appearance of the first of six volumes marks the beginning of the publication of the complete work.