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Group Reads Archive > March 2016- Leningrad: Seige and Symphony by Brian Moynahan

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message 2: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb Like this month's fiction choice, I am going to follow this discussion with interest before deciding whether to join in.

Here's to a wonderful - and inspiring - March BYT group read.


message 3: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1526 comments I've only just started. But I am liking it. So far.


message 4: by Connie (last edited Mar 02, 2016 09:35PM) (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 162 comments I read it a few weeks ago, and it was a very detailed book. Some parts were heartbreaking, and other parts showed tremendous courage against adversity.

Here's my review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 5: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 931 comments Connie, great review. I've only read a little so far and am not sure whether I will read it all as it is just so sad, but, as you say, it does show tremendous courage.


message 6: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments I won't be reading this, but I'm going to try and read Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad this month as a sort of substitute.


message 7: by Connie (last edited Mar 06, 2016 09:54PM) (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 162 comments Judy wrote: "Connie, great review. I've only read a little so far and am not sure whether I will read it all as it is just so sad, but, as you say, it does show tremendous courage."

I appreciate your comment, Judy. Some of the interrogations by the secret police were especially hard to read. The book was so detailed that I didn't try to remember all the individual people, but just tried to get an overview of the history.


message 8: by Connie (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 162 comments Bronwyn wrote: "I won't be reading this, but I'm going to try and read Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad this month as a sort of substitute."

Bronwyn, that book got good reviews too. The history of the Seige of Leningrad is very interesting, although terribly tragic.


message 9: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments So my book is a bit different. It's about Shostakovich and then set against the Siege of Leningrad, rather than about Leningrad and including Shostakovich which this one seems it is. I am getting some about the city though.

It's amazing the extent to which Stalin treated his citizens; I really don't know about Russia/USSR, so that was interesting and horrible. Then not realizing Hitler was actually going to attack... And now through the siege... Shostakovich is working on the third movement; he just went on the radio to talk about his piece. It seems that they wanted to use his work as propaganda during the war despite having shut him down a bit during the late 20s and 30s. (There was a brief, interesting bit about what makes propaganda too.)

It's been really interesting. I'm listening to the audiobook which is read by the author; I love hearing him tell the stories; it's definitely different than just reading it out of the book. I do have the book, though, and have looked at it a bit - a lot of pictures of Shostakovich and his family and friends. The audiobook is also really great because it's had snippets of the pieces mentioned throughout Shostakovich's life. When I received the book, my dad also gave me a cd of the 7th symphony and it's just... It's great. So hearing about what was going on while it was being written and what the different movements are conveying; the little march in the first movement is supposed to sound like 1) a German tune (if I remember correctly; it's off something) and 2) the Germans coming in. It's so interesting.

Sorry, that got a bit too about Shostakovich, but it's just fascinating.


message 10: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1526 comments Still at the beginning of this. But it looks like Stalin is killing off the entire leadership of the army. Plus so many artists. It's terrible.


message 11: by Barbara (new)

Barbara I wish I'd read the book you're reading, Brownyn. (I might--have it out from the library, but not sure if I'll read it or not). I liked Leningrad: Siege and Symphony, but kept wishing there were more about Shostakovich and less about the actual siege. All the deaths got to be a bit mind-numbing after a while. What a horrible time to live through--or die during.

Years ago I was in a Baroque music group that was coached a couple of times by a conductor from Lithuania. I don't remember how we got onto the subject, but he talked about how (some of) the Lithuanians welcomed the Nazis because they were so much better than the communists. I was shocked to hear him say that, knowing what I do about the Nazis. How could anyone prefer THEM I thought? But after reading this book and all the horror stories about Stalin and his henchmen, it seemed more believable.
It's amazing to realize that Stalin's terrorism didn't even take a break during the siege, when so many were dying already.


message 12: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Oh I know. I had a vague idea of how bad Stalin was, but... it's so much worse than I'd imagined. And then the Nazis weren't even bothering to help Leningrad (and I'm sure other places) because they wanted them all gone anyway... It's just horrific.


message 13: by Val (new)

Val Hitler said he wanted Leningrad / St. Petersburg completely destroyed and every last resident in it dead. Even he was not so vicious about any other city.


message 14: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Ahh. I guess I assumed all Russian cities would've been treated the same because they were Russian. I didn't realize Leningrad was a special case.


message 15: by Val (new)

Val Stalingrad was almost completely destroyed in the fighting over it and the occupation of the Ukraine was brutal, but he does seem to have singled out Leningrad for special treatment.


message 16: by Jennifer W (last edited Jul 10, 2016 09:39PM) (new)

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
If anyone is interested in the book Bronwyn read, Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad, it is available until the 14th as a free audio download here: http://www.audiobooksync.com. You will need overdrive to play it. It does not appear to be restricted to US listeners.


message 17: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) Yes , Overdrive ! That is what connection to libraries I was trying to remember to tell Bronwyn earlier . I have not used it myself yet , but everyone is using this service now and loving it ! I need to get into this too !


message 18: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1526 comments I use it all the time.


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