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History / Non-fiction

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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather (bigheather) | 2 comments Hi! I'm new to the group. I have to admit that for being a Russophile since college, and having lived in Moscow for a few years, I find classic Russian lit isn't really to my taste.

HOWEVER, I am always on the lookout for history, memoir, non-fiction type books about Russia / The USSR. Any recommendations?

I've posted a few to the bookshelf. My most recent read was Ivan's War. I highly recommend it if you can wade through the density of the last 100 or so pages.


message 2: by Steve (new)

Steve Hi, Heather. There's probably so many. One great start point would be Icon and the Axe by Billington. It's a great cultural history that covers a lot of ground, and it's very well written. Another one I liked, that I read a few years ago: Anna Akhmatova, Poet & Prophet by Roberta Reeder. Though it's primarily about AA, I think it gave a wonderful history on a number of Russian poets and artists, and how they were impacted by the Revolution.


message 3: by Holly (new)

Holly Cohen (holly222) | 1 comments Hi Heather, I cannot recommend highly enough Hope Against Hope: A Memoir by Nadezhda Mandelstam (Osip M.'s wife).


message 4: by Tom (new)

Tom Forgive me for recommending a book I haven't actually read (but do have on my shelf), but David Remnick's "Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire," received lots of critical and popular acclaim when it was first published. (Remnick is now the editor of the NYer)

I would also recommend "Sakhalin Island," by Chekhov, his first-hand account of life in the infamous Siberian penal colony. I've read only excerpts, not the whole thing, but they were quite good. His powers of observation are as impresssive in nonfiction as in fiction.


message 5: by Lianne (new)

Lianne (eclecticreading) Hi Heather *waves* I'd recommend Orlando Figes's The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia. It's an intriguing look into how regular Soviet citizens coped in the aftermath of the 1917 Revolution right up I believe to the collapse of the Soviet Union itself.

Tom wrote: "Forgive me for recommending a book I haven't actually read (but do have on my shelf), but David Remnick's "Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire," received lots of critical and popular a..."

That was a great book. I can't remember how I ended up picking up the book but it really expanded my understanding of the USSR and the events surrounding the collapse in the late '80s/early '90s.

Holly wrote: "Hi Heather, I cannot recommend highly enough Hope Against Hope: A Memoir by Nadezhda Mandelstam (Osip M.'s wife). "

I had to read this memoir for an independent research paper I wrote last year and it was pretty intriguing to see how people coped during the 1930s and their perspectives on the Terror itself.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Being very interested in the current political situation in Russia/the Balkans area, I love Anna Politkovskaya's books.
Recently, I read Putin's Russia Life in a Failing Democracy, a great read, maybe you'll find bits of your own experience of living in Moscow mirrored.
Her works have not been published in Russian, however, because of censorship. But you probably know that : )


message 7: by BC (new)

BC | 2 comments I'll second "Hope against Hope", which was really interesting. What era in particular are you interested in? Figes' "A People's Tragedy" is a very good history of the revolution, and also quite a good read.


message 8: by Lianne (new)

Lianne (eclecticreading) Bradley wrote: "I'll second "Hope against Hope", which was really interesting. What era in particular are you interested in? Figes' "A People's Tragedy" is a very good history of the revolution, and also quite a..."

I have yet to get around to reading Figes's book on the revolution, it looks interesting and thorough. I did reading his book Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia which was very fascinating and a good overview of Russian culture over the centuries.

Marion wrote: "Being very interested in the current political situation in Russia/the Balkans area, I love Anna Politkovskaya's books.
Recently, I read [book:Putin's Russia Life in a Failing Democ..."


I actually read that book a few months ago. It was very interesting and appalling to read precisely what conditions are like in Russia.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Hello I highly recommend Jope against Hope as well as Hope Abandoned which gives more historical detail of the times. I love the poetry of Osip Mandelstam and The Death of. Poet - The Last Days of Marina Tsvetaeva.


message 10: by Frederick (last edited Jul 22, 2013 09:44AM) (new)

Frederick Andresen | 11 comments Heather - Welcome. I have been in Russian business for 20 years and lived in Moscow and St. Pete six. Russia is not easy to understand, but the references given are all good, especially "The Icon and the Ax." My "Walking on Ice..." is highly reviewed. In Russia there is always the third side of the coin. You find it most often in literature. Fred fred@andresen.com


message 11: by Julia (new)

Julia | 1 comments Hi! I'm Julia, and I just joined the group. I was born and raised in Russia, but have lived in the US for the past twenty years.

I try to keep up on Russia's current events/recent history, and I would recommend "The Litvinenko File" by Martin Sixsmith.

Its focus is the 2006 poisoning of a Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London, but it goes beyond that. What I found most interesting about the book is the analysis of a complicated relationship between the government, businessmen, and the KGB (in its different forms). It's nonfiction but reads like a novel :).

If anybody here reads it, I'd love to chat with you about it.

Julia


message 12: by Frederick (new)

Frederick Andresen | 11 comments Hi Heather, or anyone, The Icon and the Ax is a staple. Anything by Remnick is original and pertinent. You might also read "Walking on Ice, An American Businessman in Russia" which has been highly reviewed by the Russian press and used in an American international MBA program. My true and mainly positive experiences over many years in Russia. Enjoy.
Fred


message 13: by Laura (new)

Laura Meyerovich (laurameyerovich) | 2 comments Professor Krylov's Navy

Hi Heather, history/memoir: the memoir of Alexey Krylov is now available in English. (you can read about him on Wikipedia).

The book covers his childhood years on his father's estate in the Volga district, in Crimea, and in France, his education in the Naval School and Naval Academy, and his naval and commercial work. He is a great storyteller, but be prepared for several risque episodes.

At some point he led the Russian program of restoring the fleet after the Russian-Japanese War, and later was the director of a large freight company and then of the largest (25,000 workers) Russian military enterprise before 1917. He was closely involved in many maritime commercial activities of the Soviet government in England, France, Germany, Norway, and Sweden after 1921. He writes about many interesting people, e.g. Basil Zaharoff, Yuri Lomonosov, etc.

Disclaimer: I translated the book, because although widely popular in Russia, it was never translated before and it should be available to people who cannot read it in Russian. The original title is simply My Memoir


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