City of Thieves
1. Many historical fiction novels are written from the perspective of the thinking of the time. Although it is interesting to observe how people think people thought in the past, it can be a little too un-modern and sometimes boring, like reading "Moby Dick" or some other great, ...more
Everything else offered moments of escape: a paralyzed man could still read Dickens; a man in the grips of dementia might have flashes of the most absurd beauty.
Lev Beniov wants to live. He may not be clear about anything else, but he knows that to be true. Life becomes more precious when being anywhere, not just in the wrong place, but just existing in space, can turn into a death trap at any moment. When his mother and sister fled the city he decided ...more
I love historical fiction, especially tales set in WW the Sequel, and Benioffs crisp, effortless prose is smart and pleasurable without ever become overly clever or self-indulgent. The plot device of surreal "forced" shopping expedition to track down a dozen eggs against the ...more
It's the Soviet Union 1942. Tension is thick with famine and war. The Germans are beginning their invasion. Two soviet thieves, Lev and Kolya are captured and thrown into the same cell. However, instead of death, they are given a 4 day reprieve with a mission to find a dozen eggs for a wedding cake for a colonel's ...more
The book is written as a retelling by the author of his Grandfather's early life, more specifically "one week in 1942, the first week of the year, the week he met my grandmother, made his best friend and killed two Germans." During that week the Grandfather, Lev, was just 17 years old and living in Leningrad which was enduring the ...more
When I read books, I like to do a little research about the author, time period, the book itself, etc. I was interested to learn that the creator of the video game, The Last of Us, drew inspiration, in part, from this book.
The Last of Us is a game my son keeps begging me to play. It takes place in the near future, has nothing to do with World War II era Leningrad, and from what Ive watched bears no resemblance to the book.
Its all about the quest.
In the book, the quest is ...more
During the battle of Stalingrad in WWII two young adults are captured by their own side and sentenced to death. A Col. in the military, stays the order if the two find some chicken eggs for a cake. ...more
Stories often have their strengths and their weaknesses when all is said and done. They can rely more on character than plot, or vice versa. A story might be strong, but pacing is a problem. Dialogue might come off unrealistic, although narrative hits the mark. In short, most books are a balancing act. There are things done right, and things ...more
Sounds simple, right? Except this is wartime and eggs are nowhere to be found. The Nazis have invaded Leningrad and Lev Beniov has been arrested and thrown in a cell with a slightly older and more experienced deserter named Kolya. The men are tasked with finding eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel instead of facing the firing squad.
Thus, begins Lev and Kolya's journey through the rough and extremely dangerous ...more
"There is a place beyond hunger, beyond fatigue, where time no longer seems to move and the bodys misery no longer seems fully your own."
City of Thieves was an amazing book! If I wasn't juggling so many other books, I would have easily finished it in a day or two. The World Wars are definite areas of interest for me, but I am always fascinated by the differing perspectives and experiences of individuals depending what country they lived in. This book explores the 900-day Siege of Leningrad ...more
I highly enjoyed this novel set during the Siege of Leningrad, even though I had just been complaining to my book club friends that I was sick of reading books set during WWII. I thought I had hit my limit of Nazi-related stories, but I was happy to be proven wrong.
Many of my GR friends have already read this book, but for those who haven't, I will keep this review free from spoilers. The short summary is we meet a young man named Lev, who is starving in ...more
When youve read a book THREE times, thats a pretty decent barometer of ones love level! Im founding a 2nd book club as of next month & wanted to kick it off with an easy read that includes laughter amidst fear, historical curiosities you've never heard of, and ...more
"I was half asleep but I smiled. In spite of all his irritating qualities, I couldn't help liking a man who despised a fictional character with such passion."I loved this book. So much. In fact, I'm in real danger of descending into embarrassing fangirl babble and I really don't want to put you through that. This book deserves so much more than my barely coherent praise I want to heap on top of its ...more
"There isn't any good news. Just because there's bad news doesn't mean there's good news, too."
Russia is also the place where a defector and a looter became an unlikely duo on a quest for . . . .
More specifically, this is the story of . . . .
One week in 1942, the first week of the year, the week he met my grandmother, made his best friend, and killed two Germans.
If cellmates Lev and Kolya can supply a dozen eggs in time for the Colonels wife to bake a cake for their daughters wedding they can save their hides. Along the ...more
"Firelight shone through the mullioned windows, warm and buttery, spilling onto the snow in front of the house. Black smoke plumed from the chimney, barely visible as a curling smudge against the dark blue sky. It looked like the most inviting house ever built, the country residence of the emperor's favorite general, ...more
The brutal siege setting is quickly established in the opening chapter, and when the corpse of a German pilot lands near his apartment, teenage Lev ...more
Truth might be stranger than fiction, but it needs a better editor.
Inspired by David Benioff's grandfather, this story takes place during the Leningrad Blockade, which occurred from 1941 to 1944 and resulted in up to 4,500,000 deaths. In the midst of this, Lev is a Jewish 17-year-old who is arrested for looting a German corpse. The Soviet police pair him with Koyla, a deserter with artistic ambitions and gives them a mission: Find 12 eggs in the desolate, war-torn city.
I quite enjoyed this book. It was engaging from front to end, with nicely ...more
I came away from this feeling, very cold, very hungry and with an inexplicable need to make sure my pantry was full. CITY OF THIEVES is a fantastic story; set in 1942 during the Nazis brutal siege of Leningrad. Its a coming of age story filled with adventure, suspense, friendship, romance and tragedy all washed down with (from what I understand) a historically accurate picture of Leningrad during the ...more
City of Thieves is a really entertaining book that not only takes into account a period in the Second World War, that has its own defining history, but it concentrates on the relationship that develops between 2 men under these unique circumstances. It is an exhilarating but fearful story where the main 2 protagonists, Lev and Koyla, have been tasked to undertake a mission in war-torn Leningrad which is strangely abstruse. It is Russia, winter, people are starving, freezing, the city is ...more
So begins the story of Lev and Kolya in what I will say is the best book I have read this year. Ive read a number of books that are in some way related to WWII over the past 12 months. This happened without planning. Its just that some of the very best books are in this category, so I wanted to read them: Vonnegut, Philip K Dick, Wiesel & Kristin Hannah. Vonnegut wrote a satire based on reality. Dick wrote a science-fiction piece ...more
As the war ensues and their trip unfolds, fighting both hunger and fatigue, the two unlikely partners in crime end up behind enemy lines encountering some despicable horrors and near death experiences while sharing...more
In the dead of winter, during the siege of Leningrad, two young men Kolya and Lev, are pulled out of a Russian jail right before they were sentenced to die. They were ordered by the Commander to acquire two dozen eggs for his daughter's wedding cake. An impossible task! They have no choice but to begin this hazardous journey in search of the unattainable eggs.
In this unexpected adventure they ...more
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He later wrote the screenplay for Spike Lees adaptation of 25th Hour starring Edward Norton and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. In 2005, Viking Press published Benioffs collection of short stories, When the Nines Roll ...more