The Wild, Wonderful World of Couchsurfing in Russia

Book review: Behind Putin’s Curtain, by Stephan Orth (Amazon / Book Depository) Hamburg-based journalist Stephan Orth has written several books about his global couchsurfing adventures in unconventional locales. Orth brings a certain cheerful openness and humorous curiosity to his adventuring, and of the touristic method of couchsurfing, he mentions that it offers “the mutual gift of time and curiosity,” something lacking in all-inclusive trips or … Continue reading The Wild, Wonderful World of Couchsurfing in Russia

A Year Abroad As the Soviet Union Was Falling

Book review: Black Earth City, by Charlotte Hobson (Amazon / Book Depository) ‘You must understand,’ said Rita Yurievna, ‘that in Russian, verbs are not only about action. They are also about the experience. Think how different it feels if you walk down a street every morning of your life, and if you walk down it for the first and only time. It maybe be the … Continue reading A Year Abroad As the Soviet Union Was Falling

Modern Rasputins: Identifying the Manipulators in Power

Book review: No One Man Should Have All That Power, by Amos Barshad (Amazon / Book Depository) Wherever there is a puppet master, an eminence grise, a Svengali, a manipulator, a secret controller – that is a Rasputin. Author Amos Barshad, fascinated by the shadowy and powerful, started noticing manipulative figures everywhere, from pop culture to politics. He developed a seven-point system to identify the … Continue reading Modern Rasputins: Identifying the Manipulators in Power

Ukraine Through Personal and Political Lenses

Book review: In Wartime, by Tim Judah (Amazon / Book Depository) As we came closer to the coast, birds skimmed and whirled. The coastline is always changing here. Sediment and sand constantly form new low islands and sandbanks. Finally, we came to where this branch of the river flows out to the sea. A monument has been erected on the beach and become slightly lopsided. … Continue reading Ukraine Through Personal and Political Lenses

Notes From Self-Imposed Siberian Exile

Book review: The Consolations of the Forest, by Sylvain Tesson (Amazon / Book Depository) I’d promised myself that before I turned forty I would live as a hermit deep in the woods. I wanted to settle an old score with time. French author Sylvain Tesson felt an itch familiar to many: to escape the stress of modern city life, to retreat to the middle of … Continue reading Notes From Self-Imposed Siberian Exile

Family Stories and Recipes, From Belarus to Brooklyn

Book review: Savage Feast, by Boris Fishman (Amazon / Book Depository)  Food was so valuable that it was a kind of currency—and it was how you showed love. If, as a person on the cusp of thirty, I wished to find sanity, I had to figure out how to temper this hunger without losing hold of what fed it, how to retain a connection to my past … Continue reading Family Stories and Recipes, From Belarus to Brooklyn

A Travelogue In Search Of What’s Making Russia Great Again

Book review: In Putin’s Footsteps, by Nina Khrushcheva and Jeffrey Tayler (Amazon / Book Depository) The new stories were no longer those of Yeltsin’s Russia, which was perceived, both at home and abroad, as a weak, insignificant, and corrupt bogeyman reeling from its Cold War defeat. These were stories of an enigmatic young technocrat tirelessly crisscrossing the country and meeting with workers, farmers, and cultural … Continue reading A Travelogue In Search Of What’s Making Russia Great Again

Disaster and After: A Chernobyl Deep Dive

Book review: Midnight in Chernobyl, by Adam Higginbotham (Amazon / Book Depository) Senior Lieutenant Alexander Logachev loved radiation the way other men loved their wives. So begins Adam Higginbotham’s exhaustive account of the April 1986 Chernobyl disaster, recounting a blow-by-blow of the unfolding incident and the monumental effects of the aftermath, amidst the context of Soviet politics and the USSR’s place on the world stage. … Continue reading Disaster and After: A Chernobyl Deep Dive

12 Upcoming Nonfiction Titles in 2019, Part the Last

While investigating what new nonfiction 2019 has in store, I found way too many exciting titles. I could spread these out over the year, but why wait? So here’s the final installment of nonfiction I’m looking forward to in the coming year. What sounds good to you here? D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II by Sarah … Continue reading 12 Upcoming Nonfiction Titles in 2019, Part the Last

Mythbusting Rasputin’s Life and Legend

Book review: Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs by Douglas Smith (Amazon / Book Depository) The life of Rasputin is one of the most remarkable in modern history. It reads like a dark fairy tale. An obscure, uneducated peasant from the wilds of Siberia receives a calling from God and sets out in search of the true faith, a journey that leads him across … Continue reading Mythbusting Rasputin’s Life and Legend

Pre-2018 Favorites

I noticed this year that several of my pre-2018 picks were published in 2017, so they’re not actually that far from being new releases. I’m a little disappointed that it turned out that way, but I guess 2017 was just a great year for nonfiction! Here are the books that were my favorites among what I read published before 2018: My top backlist favorite this … Continue reading Pre-2018 Favorites

25 Favorites from 2018

What new nonfiction impressed the most upon you this year? I think I read more new release books that were consistently pretty good, but fewer that were completely stellar. Or so it feels, at least. The majority of my favorites published earlier in the year, with the latter half a little lackluster among my new release choices. I had better luck with my pre-2018 reads … Continue reading 25 Favorites from 2018