Tag: Russia

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 19 2019

Hitler’s Empire by Mark Mazower

In Hitler’s Empire Mark Mazower, a professor of history at Columbia University, describes how Nazi Germany ruled most of the rest of Europe. Briefly, Nazi rule was both incompetent and inhumane. In that sense, Mazower’s book does not break much new ground. Instead, it takes on several other interesting tasks. It situates Nazism “as an …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/05/19/hitlers-empire-by-mark-mazower/

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 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/

Mar 23 2019

You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt

This is another novel whose story I could have easily wandered in and out of, with just a minor tweak or two. Sarah Zuckerman, the protagonist of You Are One of Them, works for an English-language newspaper in Moscow in the mid-1990s. My newspapers were in Budapest, and I didn’t relocate to Moscow for another …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/03/23/you-are-one-of-them-by-elliott-holt/

Feb 25 2019

All the World’s a Stage by Boris Akunin

For a number of years, I was worried that Boris Akunin’s English-language publishers (the estimable Weidenfeld & Nicolson) had despaired of finding an audience for the Russian mystery writer’s work, and I would have to read the remaining stories in German and miss out on Andrew Bromfield’s witty translations, or really really really improve my …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/02/25/all-the-worlds-a-stage-by-boris-akunin/

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 16 2018

Night of Stone by Catherine Merridale

Night of Stone is a book for deep and dark December, and an amazing work of history. Carrying the subtitle “Death and Memory in Russia,” it focuses on the twentieth century, when there was more than enough of the first, and the second existed under the particular pressures of the Bolshevik revolution and Soviet governance. …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/12/16/night-of-stone-by-catherine-merridale-2/