I was the first research assistant on this book back in summer 2010 and the author is my supervisor at work at GMF. So perhaps I'm biased, but Steve SI was the first research assistant on this book back in summer 2010 and the author is my supervisor at work at GMF. So perhaps I'm biased, but Steve Szabo's knowledge of the drivers and makers of German foreign policy are deep and his insights into the trends in this important bilateral relationship are keen. Russia's actions in Ukraine in 2014 and its impact on the relationship with Germany and German leadership of the Western response make this volume even more relevant, even if these matters could only be discussed to a certain degree here due to publishing deadlines. It's a valuable resource for anyone wishing to better understand the dynamics of Europe-Russia relations....more
A lyrically written set of colorful vignettes of corruption, injustice, strangeness, and tragedy adding up to a scathing indictment of the Putin systeA lyrically written set of colorful vignettes of corruption, injustice, strangeness, and tragedy adding up to a scathing indictment of the Putin system in Russia, Pomerantsev's timely book is reminiscent of Roberto Saviano's Gomorra. But while Saviano was a son of southern Italy, Pomerantsev is the British son of Russian parents who spend 9 years in Putin's Moscow as a TV producer. The experience gives him an eye onto fascinating characters and disturbing cases such as a chemicals entrepreneur who is jailed when her product is made illegal and a manipulative lifestyle coaching program that leaves its followers suicidal. Pomerantsev also brings the scene back to London to show how the West is willingly letting itself be corrupted by Russian money. A great read which leaves a memorable impression of the surrealism and danger of what has been built in Russia since the 90s....more
A slim volume of Orwell essays I picked up at Shakespeare and Company in Paris. Several are about books and literature, including the titular essay exA slim volume of Orwell essays I picked up at Shakespeare and Company in Paris. Several are about books and literature, including the titular essay examining the validity of the excuse that books are expensive. But fully half the book is taken up with a reflection on his terrible experience of public school (which doesn't mean the same thing in England as in the U.S.). Plenty of good insights across the essays....more
I watched the first episodes of the BBC miniseries version of "I, Claudius" near the start of college with a roommate who was watching it for class (CI watched the first episodes of the BBC miniseries version of "I, Claudius" near the start of college with a roommate who was watching it for class (Classics or Archaeology), loved it, and got the DVD box set for Christmas, an old school one in a box 4 inches thick for 13 hours of Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, and others telling the story of the reigns of the emperors Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius. Not long after I watched the whole series I picked up a good condition used copy of the novel as it was cheap, but was in no rush to read it. In the meantime, not too long ago I finally saw the other well known, more infamous cinematic version of the Caligula story... But having finally gotten around to reading the novel, I wonder why I waited so long. Robert Graves' storytelling is highly entertaining and brilliantly executed. Perhaps in real life Livia was not a murderess, but this story very much works and characters like Livia, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius are unforgettable. I remember be less interested in the last episodes, which are covered in the sequel "Claudius the God," but given how much I enjoyed this novel I'll probably pick that up at some point to complete the story. ...more
I read reviews of Oksana Zabuzhko's modern stab at a Ukrainian national epic when it was published in German in 2010 and thought it would be interestiI read reviews of Oksana Zabuzhko's modern stab at a Ukrainian national epic when it was published in German in 2010 and thought it would be interesting to read but I'd rather wait til it came out in English in 2012. I think it might be eBook only in the US, but that was fine. I'm also happy I got around to reading it when I did, with Ukraine's struggle to break free of Russian domination again in the news.
Zabuzhko uses three narrators. The main character, Daryna, is a successful and admired TV journalist circa early 2004 whose signature program shines a light on the everyday heroes of her troubled country. Her seemingly perfect and younger boyfriend Adrian is the descendant of Gela, a woman who fought for the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (the Banderas!) in the years after World War II ended and the heartland of Ukrainian nationalism around Lviv was newly incorporated in the Soviet Union, and whose story fascinates Daryna. Adrian's dreams take him inside the head of another Adrian who is one of Gela's UIA compadres. As Daryna tries to uncover the details of Gela's life and death, she deals with the death of her best friend and pressure to sell out as Russian money seeks to dominate the media landscape in the months before the Orange Revolution.
The topic of the book is interesting, getting used to the prose is a little more knotty. It's about 85% internal monologue, full of digressions and details, to the point that I almost didn't buy and read the book. And this was written in Ukrainian, so this has to be one of the harder prose translations which I've read, up there with Proust - Nina Shevchuk-Murray does a good job is my supposition as someone who has only looked at the translation and lacks Ukrainian skills. But you learn to deal with these types of sentences and eventually the story hooks you.
The favored characters are a little too perfect, perhaps. The novel's moral universe largely consists of heroic Ukrainian patriots, offscreen Soviet / Russian mafia evil, and somewhat sympathetic torn and self-interested people in between, like a complex ostensibly opposition (Yuschenko party) politician and a KGB archives keeper who has a history with Daryna's family.
Overall, worth the time if you're really interested in Ukraine and its history. A key work in Ukraine's national literature perhaps, in English it's good but not great....more
And when in suicidal anguish The nation awaited its German guests, And the stern spirit of Byzantium Had fled from the Russian Church, When the capital byAnd when in suicidal anguish The nation awaited its German guests, And the stern spirit of Byzantium Had fled from the Russian Church, When the capital by the Neva, Forgetting her greatness, Like a drunken prostitute Did not know who would take her next, A voice came to me. It called out comfortingly, It said, "Come here, Leave your deaf and sinful land, Leave Russia forever. I will wash the blood from your hands, Root out the black shame from your heart, With a new name I will conceal The pain of defeats and injuries." But calmly and indifferently, I covered my ears with my hands, So that my sorrowing spirit Would not be stained by those shameful words.