The Second Installment of Eugenia Ginzburg’s “Whirlwind” #WITMonth

Book review: Within the Whirlwind, by Eugenia Ginzburg (Amazon / Book Depository) The most fearful thing is that evil becomes ordinary, part of a normal daily routine extending over decades. It’s hard to believe, considering the popularity over time and general excellence of Eugenia Ginzburg’s first memoir, Journey into the Whirlwind, that her second one is less widely read and somewhat difficult to come by. … Continue reading The Second Installment of Eugenia Ginzburg’s “Whirlwind” #WITMonth

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

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

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

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

Narrating Stalin’s Terror: The Beginning of Eugenia Ginzburg’s Journey

Book review: Journey into the Whirlwind, by Eugenia Semyonovna Ginzburg I opened the door briskly, with the boldness of despair. If you are to jump over a cliff, better take a run at it and not pause on the brink to look back at the lovely world you are leaving behind. Eugenia Ginzburg’s memoir of her arrest in 1937 on charges that eventually became “terrorism” … Continue reading Narrating Stalin’s Terror: The Beginning of Eugenia Ginzburg’s Journey

Scenes from a House in Ekaterinburg in July, 100 Years Ago

Book review: Last Days of the Romanovs, by Helen Rappaport Book Depository Russian historian Helen Rappaport writes a tightly focused, streamlined account of the last two weeks that the family of Nicholas Romanov was alive, held captive at the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg in Siberia, a building known by its very Soviet name as the “House of Special Purpose”. 100 years ago last month, the … Continue reading Scenes from a House in Ekaterinburg in July, 100 Years Ago

Red Weather Reports: Art and Memories from Siberia

Book review: Stalin’s Meteorologist, by Olivier Rolin (Amazon / Book Depository) I have not glossed over Alexey Feodosievich’s faults, when I was aware of them. I have not sought to turn him into an exemplary hero. He was neither a scientific genius nor a great poet, he was in many ways an ordinary man, but he was innocent. In 2012, French author Olivier Rolin discovered … Continue reading Red Weather Reports: Art and Memories from Siberia

A Voice from the Gulag

Book review: The Day Will Pass Away, by Ivan Chistyakov (Amazon / Book Depository) So even my inner word recedes day by day into eternity until it reaches freezing point. You start believing they can make you lose all emotion. Yet every day brings you nearer to freedom. Only, what kind of path are you walking to get there? A path of defeats, misery and rage. A path that … Continue reading A Voice from the Gulag

Russia Through The Lens of Chelyabinsk

Book review: Putin Country, by Anne Garrels (Amazon / Book Depository) “When the meteor hit Chelyabinsk, it blazed across the sky, spewed out its shards, and then sank quietly into a lake. That’s what many hoped the breakup of the Soviet Union would be like. It would end with a compliant Russia as benign as the rock that is now sitting in Chelyabinsk’s museum. That has not occurred. … Continue reading Russia Through The Lens of Chelyabinsk

An American’s Insights into Russia, 1995-2005-2015

Book review: Bears in the Streets, by Lisa Dickey Amazon No fewer than six people in six different cities (and four different time zones) had informed me that this is what Americans think. “Bears in the streets,” I realized, was the apparently ubiquitous shorthand for the Russians’ feeling that the West doesn’t take them seriously enough – that we think they’re primitive or backward. Lifelong Russophile … Continue reading An American’s Insights into Russia, 1995-2005-2015