Category: Eastern Europe

May 14 2018

Mani: Travels in the Southern Peleponnese by Patrick Leigh Fermor

Mani grew in the telling. Patrick Leigh Fermor meant it “to be a single chapter among many, each of them describing the stages and halts, the encounters, the background and the conclusions of a leisurely journey … through continental Greece and the islands.” He undertook the journey, “to pull together the strands of many previous …

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May 12 2018

The House of Government by Yuri Slezkine — Halftime Report

One of the unexpected pleasures of The House of Government is Yuri Slezkine’s occasional playful way with words. Given the subject matter, and particularly given Slezkine’s argument that Bolshevism can best be understood as a millennarian sect that gained control of the state, a reader would be forgiven for thinking that his prose would range …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/05/12/the-house-of-government-by-yuri-slezkine-halftime-report/

Feb 13 2018

The House of Government by Yuri Slezkine

When it was built, the House of Government — maybe better known in English as the House on the Embankment thanks to the book by Yuri Trefonov — was the largest residential building in Europe. With The House of Government, Yuri Slezkine gives the building, its people and its first era an equally enormous treatment. The main …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/02/13/the-house-of-government-by-yuri-slezkine/

Jan 22 2018

The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold by Tim Moore

Tim Moore is a British travel writer, and two of his previous books involved long-distance stunt bicycle rides. One of them was a more or less straightforward ride along a route taken by the Tour de France. Fair enough, who has taken a bike tour and not wondered what it would be like to attempt …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/01/22/the-cyclist-who-went-out-in-the-cold-by-tim-moore/

Dec 25 2017

Season’s Greetings

A little light reading.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/12/25/seasons-greetings/

Dec 07 2017

Conversations with Stalin by Milovan Djilas

Listening in on Conversations with Stalin involves stepping back into numerous vanished worlds: one in which Communists were imprisoned by kings’ secret police forces; where Communism is new and for large numbers of people a source of hope; where the inner workings of the Soviet Union are largely unknown; where Yugoslavia exists as both a …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/12/07/conversations-with-stalin-by-milovan-djilas/

Dec 06 2017

Premature Evaluation: Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman

I first came to Vasily Grossman via excerpts in Ivan’s War, Catherine Merridale‘s amazing book about how ordinary Soviet soldiers experienced the Second World War. That prompted me to pick up A Writer at War, dispatches and stories that he wrote while working as a journalist near the front. I thought it was one of …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/12/06/premature-evaluation-life-and-fate-by-vasily-grossman/

Oct 22 2017

Sonnets from the Crimea by Adam Mickiewicz

When Tsar the Polish poet southward sent For stirring trouble and renewed dissent He took his pen — described the lands he crossed The steppes so vast, the palaces long lost Exiles who before Adam M. had gone And Muslims who so well had served their Khan Crimean shores, the mounts above them ranged The …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2017/10/22/sonnets-from-the-crimea-by-adam-mickiewicz/

Oct 16 2017

The Gates of Europe by Serhii Plokhy

The first argument of The Gates of Europe is its existence: a history of Ukrainians as a people, a nation separate from others; a history of the Ukrainian lands that is not a subset of another history, whether that other history is Russian or (less probably) Polish. In his very first sentence, Plokhy cites the …

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Sep 27 2017

Pirate Utopia by Bruce Sterling

The collapse of the European empires at the end of World War I produced considerable political strangeness. Béla Kun. The Czech Legion in Siberia. The Bavarian Soviet Republic. Baron Ungern. Flights of fancy, seizures of power, and some powerfully fancy seizures. In Pirate Utopia, Bruce Sterling sails off to another corner of collapsing empires rubbing …

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