Those Bloody, Sexy, Glittery Romanov Centuries

Book review: The Romanovs, by Simon Sebag Montefiore (Amazon / Book Depository) Marx wrote that 'History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.' This was witty but far from true. History is never repeated, but it borrows, steals, echoes and commandeers the past to create a hybrid, something unique out of the ingredients of... Continue Reading →

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... Continue Reading →

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... Continue Reading →

Making Light of a Soviet Childhood

Book review: Everything is Normal, by Sergey Grechishkin Book Depository Railways and trains in Russia have always been much more than just pragmatic modes of getting from point A to point B. For a Russian soul, a never-ending train journey across the empty vastness of its land is a state of mind, a meditation, an... Continue Reading →

What Makes the Russians Tick

Book review: Russians, by Gregory Feifer "Russia has no need of sermons (she has heard too many), nor of prayers (she has mumbled them too often), but of the awakening in the people a feeling of human dignity, lost for so many ages in mud and filth." - Vissarion Belinsky on the Russian Orthodox Church in a letter to... Continue Reading →

Outsiders Bearing Witness to Revolution

Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, Russia, 1917 - A World on the Edge by Helen Rappaport (Amazon / Book Depository) Helen Rappaport, author of 2014's popular history The Romanov Sisters, among other titles on history and royals both Russian and otherwise, explains in her acknowledgments for Caught in the Revolution that while working as a historian she... Continue Reading →

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