A Saga of the Russian Revolution
Author: Yuri Slezkine
Publisher: Princeton University Press
On the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the epic story of an enormous apartment building where Communist true believers lived before their destruction The House of Government is unlike any other book about the Russian Revolution and the Soviet experiment. Written in the tradition of Tolstoy's War and Peace, Grossman’s Life and Fate, and Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, Yuri Slezkine’s gripping narrative tells the true story of the residents of an enormous Moscow apartment building where top Communist officials and their families lived before they were destroyed in Stalin’s purges. A vivid account of the personal and public lives of Bolshevik true believers, the book begins with their conversion to Communism and ends with their children’s loss of faith and the fall of the Soviet Union. Completed in 1931, the House of Government, later known as the House on the Embankment, was located across the Moscow River from the Kremlin. The largest residential building in Europe, it combined 505 furnished apartments with public spaces that included everything from a movie theater and a library to a tennis court and a shooting range. Slezkine tells the chilling story of how the building’s residents lived in their apartments and ruled the Soviet state until some eight hundred of them were evicted from the House and led, one by one, to prison or their deaths. Drawing on letters, diaries, and interviews, and featuring hundreds of rare photographs, The House of Government weaves together biography, literary criticism, architectural history, and fascinating new theories of revolutions, millennial prophecies, and reigns of terror. The result is an unforgettable human saga of a building that, like the Soviet Union itself, became a haunted house, forever disturbed by the ghosts of the disappeared.
A Saga of the Russian Revolution
Author: Yuri Slezkine
On the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the epic story of an enormous apartment building where Communist true believers lived before their destruction The House of Government is unlike any other book about the Russian Revolution and the Soviet experiment. Written in the tradition of Tolstoy's War and Peace, Grossman's Life and Fate, and Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago, Yuri Slezkine's gripping narrative tells the true story of the residents of an enormous Moscow apartment building where top Communist officials and their families lived before they were destroyed in Stalin's purges. A vivid account of the personal and public lives of Bolshevik true believers, the book begins with their conversion to Communism and ends with their children's loss of faith and the fall of the Soviet Union. Completed in 1931, the House of Government, later known as the House on the Embankment, was located across the Moscow River from the Kremlin. The largest residential building in Europe, it combined 505 furnished apartments with public spaces that included everything from a movie theater and a library to a tennis court and a shooting range. Slezkine tells the chilling story of how the building's residents lived in their apartments and ruled the Soviet state until some eight hundred of them were evicted from the House and led, one by one, to prison or their deaths. Drawing on letters, diaries, and interviews, and featuring hundreds of rare photographs, The House of Government weaves together biography, literary criticism, architectural history, and fascinating new theories of revolutions, millennial prophecies, and reigns of terror. The result is an unforgettable human saga of a building that, like the Soviet Union itself, became a haunted house, forever disturbed by the ghosts of the disappeared.
And, The House on the Embankment
Author: Iurii Valentinovich Trifonov,Michael Glenny
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Beyond their acute depiction of life in the Soviet Union, Yuri Trifonov's novellas offer an extraordinarily rich literary encounter in the tradition of great nineteenth-century Russian writing. "Another Life" is the story of Olga, a woman suddenly widowed and attempting to grasp the memory of her brilliant, erratic husband and to understand their life together. Possessed with a passion for truth, able to appreciate how the past affects the present, he could not hope to flourish in a society where intrigue and moral compromise were the norm. A sharp, satirical portrait of an academic opportunist, "The House on the Embankment" is paradoxically laced with compassion and humor. Vadim Alexandrovich Glebov rises from shabby origins to become an apparatchik yet in so doing suffers his share of oppression - from society, from former friends, and, most significantly, from his total inability to make decisions.
Author: Yuri Slezkine
Publisher: Princeton University Press
This masterwork of interpretative history begins with a bold declaration: The Modern Age is the Jewish Age--and we are all, to varying degrees, Jews. The assertion is, of course, metaphorical. But it underscores Yuri Slezkine's provocative thesis. Not only have Jews adapted better than many other groups to living in the modern world, they have become the premiere symbol and standard of modern life everywhere. Slezkine argues that the Jews were, in effect, among the world's first free agents. They traditionally belonged to a social and anthropological category known as "service nomads," an outsider group specializing in the delivery of goods and services. Their role, Slezkine argues, was part of a broader division of human labor between what he calls Mercurians-entrepreneurial minorities--and Apollonians--food-producing majorities. Since the dawning of the Modern Age, Mercurians have taken center stage. In fact, Slezkine argues, modernity is all about Apollonians becoming Mercurians--urban, mobile, literate, articulate, intellectually intricate, physically fastidious, and occupationally flexible. Since no group has been more adept at Mercurianism than the Jews, he contends, these exemplary ancients are now model moderns. The book concentrates on the drama of the Russian Jews, including émigrés and their offspring in America, Palestine, and the Soviet Union. But Slezkine has as much to say about the many faces of modernity--nationalism, socialism, capitalism, and liberalism--as he does about Jewry. Marxism and Freudianism, for example, sprang largely from the Jewish predicament, Slezkine notes, and both Soviet Bolshevism and American liberalism were affected in fundamental ways by the Jewish exodus from the Pale of Settlement. Rich in its insight, sweeping in its chronology, and fearless in its analysis, this sure-to-be-controversial work is an important contribution not only to Jewish and Russian history but to the history of Europe and America as well.
The Myth of Siberia in Russian Culture
Author: G. Diment,Y. Slezkine
Siberia has no history of independent political existence, no claim to a separate ethnic identity, and no clear borders. Yet, it could be said that the elusive country 'behind the Urals' is the most real and the most durable part of the Russian landscape. For centuries, Siberia has been represented as Russia's alter ego,as the heavenly or infernal antithesis to the perceived complexity or shallowness of Russian life. It has been both the frightening heart of darkness and a fabulous land of plenty; the 'House of the Dead' and the realm of utter freedom; a frozen wasteland and a colourful frontier; a dumping ground for Russia's rejects and the last refuge of its lost innocence. The contributors to Between Heaven and Hell examine the origin, nature, and implications of these images from historical, literary, geographical, anthropological, and linguistic perspectives. They create a striking, fascinating picture of this enormous and mysterious land.
Author: Janet Fitch
Publisher: Little, Brown
From the mega-bestselling author of White Oleander and Paint It Black, a sweeping historical saga of the Russian Revolution, as seen through the eyes of one young woman St. Petersburg, New Year's Eve, 1916. Marina Makarova is a young woman of privilege who aches to break free of the constraints of her genteel life, a life about to be violently upended by the vast forces of history. Swept up on these tides, Marina will join the marches for workers' rights, fall in love with a radical young poet, and betray everything she holds dear, before being betrayed in turn. As her country goes through almost unimaginable upheaval, Marina's own coming-of-age unfolds, marked by deep passion and devastating loss, and the private heroism of an ordinary woman living through extraordinary times. This is the epic, mesmerizing story of one indomitable woman's journey through some of the most dramatic events of the last century.
Siberian Exile Under the Tsars
Author: Daniel Beer
Winner of the Cundill History Prize The House of the Dead tells the incredible hundred-year-long story of “the vast prison without a roof” that was Russia’s Siberian penal colony. From the beginning of the nineteenth century until the Russian Revolution, the tsars exiled more than a million prisoners and their families east. Here Daniel Beer illuminates both the brutal realities of this inhuman system and the tragic and inspiring fates of those who endured it. Siberia was intended to serve not only as a dumping ground for criminals and political dissidents, but also as new settlements. The system failed on both fronts: it peopled Siberia with an army of destitute and desperate vagabonds who visited a plague of crime on the indigenous population, and transformed the region into a virtual laboratory of revolution. A masterly and original work of nonfiction, The House of the Dead is the history of a failed social experiment and an examination of Siberia’s decisive influence on the political forces of the modern world.
War, Revolution, Civil War, 1914 - 1921
Author: Laura Engelstein
Publisher: Oxford University Press
A century ago, the three-hundred-year-old Romanov dynasty was toppled, replaced first by an interim government and then by the world's first self-proclaimed socialist society. This was no narrative of ten earth-shaking days but one of months and years of compounding strife, a struggle forpower by competing ideologies and regions and classes and political parties and ethnicities, all rushing to fill the vacuum left by the collapse of the tsarist regime, brought down by the First World War, that massive exercise in state-driven violence. At the center of it all is the unlikely triumphof Lenin's Bolsheviks, first in their ruthless seizure of power and then, by institutionalizing violence and terror, their eventual victory over equally brutal but less effective opponents. For seven years, through war, revolutionary upheaval, and civil strife, one Russia replaced another; oldinstitutions and ways of life were wiped away or adapted to new purposes. Laura Engelstein's monumental new history of the Russian Revolution brings to life the events that sparked and then fueled the revolution as it spread out across the vestiges of an entire empire - from St. Petersburg and Moscow across the Steppes, the Caucuses, and Siberia, to the Pacific Rim.Russia in Flames is a vivid account of a state in crisis so profound and transformative that it not only shook the world but irrevocably altered it.
Two Centuries of a Russian Village
Author: Serge Schmemann
Tracing the lives of his Russian forebears, Serge Schmemann, Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for the New York Times, tells a remarkable story that spans the past two hundred years of Russian history. First, he draws on a family archive rich in pictorial as well as documentary treasure to bring us into the prerevolutionary life of the village of Sergiyevskoye (now called Koltsovo), where the spacious estate of his mother's family was the seat of a manor house as vast and imposing as a grand hotel. In this village, on this estate--ringed with orchards, traversed by endless paths through linden groves, overseen by a towering brick church, and bordered by a sparkling-clear river--we live through the cycle of a year: the springtime mud, summertime card parties, winter nights of music and good talk in a haven safe from the bitter cold and ever-present snow. Family recollections of life a century ago summon up an aura of devotion to tsar and church. The unjust, benevolent, complicated, and ultimately doomed relationship between master and peasants--leading to growing unrest, then to civil war--is subtly captured. Diary entries record the social breakdown step by step: grievances going unresolved, the government foundering, the status quo of rural life overcome by revolutionary fervor. Soon we see the estate brutally collectivized, the church torn apart brick by brick, the manor house burned to the ground. Some of the family are killed in the fighting; others escape into exile; one writes to his kin for the last time from the Gulag. The Soviet era is experienced as a time of privation, suffering, and lost illusions. The Nazi occupation inspires valorous resistance, but at great cost. Eventually all that remains of Sergiyevskoye is an impoverished collective. Without idealizing the tsarist past or wholly damning the regime that followed, Schmemann searches for a lost heritage as he shows how Communism thwarted aspiration and initiative. Above all, however, his book provides for us a deeply felt evocation of the long-ago life of a corner of Russia that is even now movingly beautiful despite the ravages of history and time. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Author: Vasily Grossman
Publisher: New York Review of Books
A book judged so dangerous in the Soviet Union that not only the manuscript but the ribbons on which it had been typed were confiscated by the state, Life and Fate is an epic tale of World War II and a profound reckoning with the dark forces that dominated the twentieth century. Interweaving a transfixing account of the battle of Stalingrad with the story of a single middle-class family, the Shaposhnikovs, scattered by fortune from Germany to Siberia, Vasily Grossman fashions an immense, intricately detailed tapestry depicting a time of almost unimaginable horror and even stranger hope.Life and Fate juxtaposes bedrooms and snipers’ nests, scientific laboratories and the Gulag, taking us deep into the hearts and minds of characters ranging from a boy on his way to the gas chambers to Hitler and Stalin themselves. This novel of unsparing realism and visionary moral intensity is one of the supreme achievements of modern Russian literature.
Author: Isabel Allende
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
The Trueba family embodies strong feelings. This family saga starts at the beginning of the 20th century and continues through the assassination of Allende in 1973.
Russia and the Small Peoples of the North
Author: Yuri Slezkine
Publisher: Cornell University Press
'This fascinating and authoritative book covers the history of relations between Russian civilization and the hunter-gatherer peoples of northern Eurasia. Slezkine charts changing Russian policies toward these circumpolar cultures beginning with the fur trade...in the eleventh century, through the expansion of the Russian empire under the tsars, to the modernization policies of the Soviets. He argues that attention to this kind of history reveals as much about the construction of Russian identity as it does about the cultural identity of the northern 'others.'
A Memoir of Cold War Russia
Author: Sheila Fitzpatrick
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Moscow in the 1960s was the other side of the Iron Curtain: mysterious, exotic, even dangerous. In 1966 the historian Sheila Fitzpatrick travelled to Moscow to research in the Soviet archives. This was the era of Brezhnev, of a possible 'thaw' in the Cold War, when the Soviets couldn't decide either to thaw out properly or re-freeze. Moscow, the world capital of socialism, was renowned for its drabness. The buses were overcrowded; there were endemic shortages and endless queues. This was also the age of regular spying scandals and tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions and it was no surprise that visiting students were subject to intense scrutiny by the KGB. Many of Fitzpatrick's friends were involved in espionage activities - and indeed others were accused of being spies or kept under close surveillance. In this book, Sheila Fitzpatrick provides a unique insight into everyday life in Soviet Moscow. Full of drama and colourful characters, her remarkable memoir highlights the dangers and drudgery faced by Westerners living under communism.
Turning Points of the Russian Revolution
Author: Tony Brenton
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Communism's rise and eventual fall in Eastern Europe is one of the great stories of the 20th century. Within this context, the Russian Revolution's role and legacy overshadows all else. In Was Revolution Inevitable?, former British Ambassador to Russia Sir Tony Brenton has gathered essays by leading historians to trace the events that led to the overthrow of the Tsarist regime and to pinpoint moments when those events could have unfolded in a drastically different way. What would the world be like had Fanny Kaplan succeeded in assassinating Vladimir Lenin in 1918? What if the Bolsheviks had never imposed the brutal "War Communism" initiatives that devastated the Russian peasants? What if Rasputin had talked Nicholas II out of involvement in World War One, which effectively led to the Revolution and sealed the demise of the Romanov dynasty? Preeminent scholars, including Orlando Figes, Richard Pipes, Douglas Smith, and Martin Sixsmith, ruminate on these questions and many others, assembling a series of pivotal moments that reveal what might have gone differently, and, if so, what the repercussions would have been. The contributors take a variety of approaches, from imagining an alternate history, to carefully studying a precarious moment of contingency, to disproving popular imagined alternatives. All of the chapters, however, shed light on Lenin's rise to power and the proliferation of his agenda, while assessing the influence of the revolution's pivotal moments on Russian-and global-politics. Provocative and illuminating, Was Revolution Inevitable? provides an in-depth exploration of the conflict that for nearly a century has shaped world history. The Russian Revolution put totalitarian communism into power, fueled Nazism and the Second World War, and forged one of the West's greatest antagonists. Here is a book that scrutinizes how the past, present, and future of global history could have been remarkably different had the events of 1917 unfolded differently and in the process deepens our understanding of what did happen and why.
The Remarkable Story of an Italian Mother, Her Two Sons, and Their Fight Against Fascism
Author: Caroline Moorehead
The acclaimed author of A Train in Winter and Village of Secrets delivers the next chapter in "The Resistance Quartet": the astonishing story of the aristocratic Italian family who stood up to Mussolini's fascism, and whose efforts helped define the path of Italy in the years between the World Wars—a profile in courage that remains relevant today. Members of the cosmopolitan, cultural aristocracy of Florence at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Rosselli family, led by their fierce matriarch, Amelia, were vocal anti-fascists. As populist, right-wing nationalism swept across Europe after World War I, and Italy’s Prime Minister, Benito Mussolini, began consolidating his power, Amelia’s sons Carlo and Nello led the opposition, taking a public stand against Il Duce that few others in their elite class dared risk. When Mussolini established a terrifying and brutal police state controlled by his Blackshirts—the squaddristi—the Rossellis and their anti-fascist circle were transformed into active resisters. In retaliation, many of the anti-fascists were arrested and imprisoned; others left the country to escape a similar fate. Tragically, Carlo and Nello were eventually assassinated by Mussolini’s secret service. After Italy entered World War II in June 1940, Amelia, thanks to visas arranged by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt herself, fled to New York City with the remaining members of her family. Renowned historian Caroline Moorehead paints an indelible picture of Italy in the first half of the twentieth century, offering an intimate account of the rise of Il Duce and his squaddristi; life in Mussolini’s penal colonies; the shocking ambivalence and complicity of many prominent Italian families seduced by Mussolini’s promises; and the bold, fractured resistance movement whose associates sacrificed their lives to fight fascism. In A Bold and Dangerous Family, Moorehead once again pays tribute to heroes who fought to uphold our humanity during one of history’s darkest chapters. A Bold and Dangerous Family is illustrated with black-and-white photographs.
The Early Years of the Russian Revolution
Author: Robert Service
The early years of Bolshevik rule were marked by dynamic interaction between Russia and the West. These years of civil war in Russia were years when the West strove to understand the new communist regime while also seeking to undermine it. Meanwhile, the Bolsheviks tried to spread their revolution across Europe at the same time they were seeking trade agreements that might revive their collapsing economy. This book tells the story of these complex interactions in detail, revealing that revolutionary Russia was shaped not only by Lenin and Trotsky, but by an extraordinary miscellany of people: spies and commissars, certainly, but also diplomats, reporters, and dissidents, as well as intellectuals, opportunistic businessmen, and casual travelers. This is the story of these characters: everyone from the ineffectual but perfectly positioned Somerset Maugham to vain writers and revolutionary sympathizers whose love affairs were as dangerous as their politics. Through this sharply observed exposé of conflicting loyalties, we get a very vivid sense of how diverse the shades of Western and Eastern political opinion were during these years.
The World Turned Upside Down
Author: Rodric Braithwaite
Publisher: Yale University Press
Rodric Braithwaite was British ambassador to Moscow during the critical years of Perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the failed coup of August 1991, and the rise of Boris Yeltsin. From the vantage point of the British Embassy (once the mansion of the great nineteenth-century merchant Pavel Kharitonenko) with its commanding views cross the Moscow River to Red Square and the Kremlin, Braithwaite had a ringside seat. With his long experience of Russia and the Russians, who saw him as 'Mrs. Thatcher's Ambassador', on good personal terms with Mikhail Gorbachev, he was in a privileged position close to the centre of Russia's changing relationship with the West. But this is not primarily a memoir. It is an intimate analysis of momentous change and the people who drove it, against the background of Russia's long history and its unique but essentially European culture. Braithwaite watched as Gorbachev and his allies struggled to modernise and democratise a system which had already reached the point of terminal decay. Against the opposition of the generals, they forced the abandonment of the nuclear confrontation as the Soviet Union fell apart. The climax of the drama came in August 1991 when a miscellaneous collection of conservative patriots - generals, politicians and secret policemen - attempted to reverse the course of history and succeeded only in accelerating the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Russia and the Seduction of the British Left
Author: Giles Udy
Publisher: Biteback Publishing
Category: Political Science
The Labour Party welcomed the Russian Revolution in 1917: it paved the way for the birth of a socialist superpower and ushered in a new era in Soviet governance. Labour excused the Bolshevik excesses and prepared for its own revolution in Britain. In 1929, Stalin deported hundreds of thousands of men, women and children to work in labour camps. Subjected to appalling treatment, thousands died. When news of the camps leaked out in Britain, there were protests demanding the government ban imports of timber cut by slave labourers. The Labour government of the day dismissed mistreatment claims as Tory propaganda and blocked appeals for an inquiry. Despite the Cabinet privately acknowledging the harsh realities of the work camps, Soviet denials were publicly repeated as fact. One Labour minister even defended them as part of 'a remarkable economic experiment'. Labour and the Gulag explains how Britain's Labour Party was seduced by the promise of a socialist utopia and enamoured of a Russian Communist system it sought to emulate. It reveals the moral compromises Labour made, and how it turned its back on the people in order to further its own political agenda.
Author: Karl Schlögel
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Category: Political Science
Moscow, 1937: the soviet metropolis at the zenith of Stalin’s dictatorship. A society utterly wrecked by a hurricane of violence. In this compelling book, the renowned historian Karl Schlögel reconstructs with meticulous care the process through which, month by month, the terrorism of a state-of-emergency regime spiraled into the ‘Great Terror’ during which 1 ½ million human beings lost their lives within a single year. He revisits the sites of show trials and executions and, by also consulting numerous sources from the time, he provides a masterful panorama of these key events in Russian history. He shows how, in the shadow of the reign of terror, the regime around Stalin also aimed to construct a new society. Based on countless documents, Schlögel’s historical masterpiece vividly presents an age in which the boundaries separating the dream and the terror dissolve, and enables us to experience the fear that was felt by people subjected to totalitarian rule. This rich and absorbing account of the Soviet purges will be essential reading for all students of Russia and for any readers interested in one of the most dramatic and disturbing events of modern history.
A Eurasian Story
Author: Dmitri V. Trenin
Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
Category: Political Science
The war in Georgia. Tensions with Ukraine and other nearby countries. Moscow's bid to consolidate its "zone of privileged interests" among the Commonwealth of Independent States. These volatile situations all raise questions about the nature of and prospects for Russia's relations with its neighbors. In this book, Carnegie scholar Dmitri Trenin argues that Moscow needs to drop the notion of creating an exclusive power center out of the post-Soviet space. Like other former European empires, Russia will need to reinvent itself as a global player and as part of a wider community. Trenin's vision of Russia is an open Euro-Pacific country that is savvy in its use of soft power and fully reconciled with its former borderlands and dependents. He acknowledges that this scenario may sound too optimistic but warns that the alternative is not a new version of the historic empire but instead is the ultimate marginalization of Russia.