Category: Eastern Europe

Oct 15 2019

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver

One of the unusual things that Naomi Novik does in Spinning Silver — so unusual, in fact, that I can’t think of another fantasy book that does it — is to state that some of her main characters are Jews. The first chapter lays out the hints: the characters are moneylenders in a small town whose …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/10/15/spinning-silver-by-naomi-novik/

May 18 2019

Barbarossa by Alan Clark

Barbarossa by Alan Clark

So I asked the friend whose copy of Barbarossa I had acquired what the virtues were of an account published in 1965. He replied that Clark wrote clearly and was particularly good on the politicking among the German generals, and between the German high command and the leaders in the field. Thus encouraged, I picked …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/05/18/barbarossa-by-alan-clark/

Apr 27 2019

The Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Lady of the Lake brings to a close the extended sequence of novels centering on the Witcher Geralt of Rivera and Ciri the child of destiny, although Sapkowski has written another book of stories, Season of Storms set earlier in Geralt’s personal chronology. The series has its ups and downs: I thought that Baptism …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/04/27/the-lady-of-the-lake-by-andrzej-sapkowski/

Apr 26 2019

The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder

I wanted to like The Road to Unfreedom a lot more than I did. The book is billed as a “chronicle of the rise of authoritarianism from Russia to Europe and America.” Snyder is a well-regarded historian with big works of synthesis to his credit — Bloodlands and Black Earth — plus a volume On Tyranny …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/04/26/the-road-to-unfreedom-by-timothy-snyder/

Apr 15 2019

Lost Kingdom by Serhii Plokhy

Having recently written a national history of Ukraine, Plokhy turns his attention to the history of the junior eastern Slavic nation, Russia. A fair portion of Lost Kingdom describes how and why my opening sentence would outrage Russian ideologues, rulers and historians. The titles of the book’s sections reveal important aspects of his argument: Inventing …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/04/15/lost-kingdom-by-serhii-plokhy/

Apr 05 2019

Border by Kapka Kassabova

I’ve been to this border before, though I’ve never been to the particular corner of Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece that Kapka Kassabova visits. “But the initial emotional impulse behind my journey was simple: I wanted to see the forbidden places of my childhood, the once-militarised border villages and towns, rivers and forests that had been …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/04/05/border-by-kapka-kassabova/

Feb 24 2019

Expedition zu den Polen by Steffen Moeller

Steffen Möller’s second genial book about Poland and Germany takes the train ride from Berlin to Warsaw as his frame to share more anecdotes from a life lived in both countries. Möller’s engagement with Poland began more or less on a lark, when he signed up for a language seminar in Krakow in the mid-1990s. …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/02/24/expedition-zu-den-polen-by-steffen-moeller/

Feb 08 2019

A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka by Lev Golinkin

How did A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka turn out to be such an impossibly good book? I picked it up more or less on a whim during a visit to Texas — ok, memoir of leaving the Soviet Union as a kid and growing up in the States, could be interesting — and …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/02/08/a-backpack-a-bear-and-eight-crates-of-vodka-by-lev-golinkin/

Dec 17 2018

The House of Government by Yuri Slezkine

The first half of The House of Government located the Bolshevik party within a specifically Russian tradition of millennarianism. Revolutionary socialism would redeem the world, starting with Russia, and usher in a new era, a time of plenty, a time of the perfectibility of humanity. The second half of the book details what life is …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/12/17/the-house-of-government-by-yuri-slezkine-2/

Dec 11 2018

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club #2) by Theodora Goss

At 702 pages — nearly twice the length of its predecessor in the series — European Travel For The Monstrous Gentlewoman is an unfortunately ungainly novel. Whereas The Strange Case Of The Alchemist’s Daughter was a sprightly reimagining of classic monstrous tales especially as they pertained to the much abused daughters of horrible men, ETftMG …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/12/11/european-travel-for-the-monstrous-gentlewoman-the-extraordinary-adventures-of-the-athena-club-2-by-theodora-goss/