December 01, 2019

Russophile's Bookshelf


Russophile's Bookshelf

We receive dozens of books from publishers each year, yet can only review a few in each issue of Russian Life. Here are a few books we recently received that are in publication and should be brought to Russophiles' attention.

 

Midnight in St. Petersburg, by Vanora Bennett (Thomas Dunne, $25.99)

Faberge jewels, Rasputin, and a priceless Stradivarious violin all play a part in a young woman's flight for survival, and for love, in revolutionary Russia.

 

Russian Tattoo, by Elena Gorokhova (Simon and Schuster, $15.99)

We reviewed this fine memoir by the author of Mountain of Crumbs in our November/December 2014 issue. The book is now out in paperback.

 

Alla Osipenko, by Joel Lobenthal (Oxford University Press, $34.95)

An autobiography of the legendary dancer and rebel who paid the price for speaking truth to Soviet power. The book draws on 40 interviews with the prima ballerina, tracing her life from classical darling to avant-garde rebel.

 

Soviet Leaders and Intelligence, by Raymond L. Garthoff (Georgetown University Press, $26.95)

A leading Soviet expert offers an informed and highly readable assessment of how Soviet leaders understood (and misunderstood) the intentions and objectives of their "main adversary." Garthoff shows how Soviet leaders were often not receptive to intelligence analyses that conflicted with their existing beliefs, and that intelligence officers were often not willing to challenge ideological orthodoxy.

 

Hit Parade: The Orbita Group, edited by Kevin M.F. Platt (Ugly Duckling Presse, $18)

A bilingual Russian-English colleciton of poems by the four leading authors of the Orbita creative collective, based in Riga, Latvia. Orbita is a trans-ethnic, trans-linguistic phenomenon that draws on both the traditions and contemporary scenes of Russia, Latvia and Europe.

 

Russia: Putin's Playground, by Anastasia Edel (Lightning Guides, $8.99)

Mini travel book sized, this is a brief guide to recent trends in culture, politics and society, with a dash of history thrown in. Lightning Guides "are short, beautiful books that connect curious readers to big ideas." Brevity is the watchword here, but it could be a good starting point for someone just dipping their toe in Russophilia.

 

The St. Petersburg Connection, by Alexis S. Troubetzkoy (Dundurn, $29.99)

A short, well-written history of Russian-American relations from 1776 to 1917, exploring the seemingly unlikely connections between the two countries – one a champion of liberty and progress, the other an absolute monarchy and defender of tradition. 

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Some of Our Books

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.
93 Untranslatable Russian Words

93 Untranslatable Russian Words

Every language has concepts, ideas, words and idioms that are nearly impossible to translate into another language. This book looks at nearly 100 such Russian words and offers paths to their understanding and translation by way of examples from literature and everyday life. Difficult to translate words and concepts are introduced with dictionary definitions, then elucidated with citations from literature, speech and prose, helping the student of Russian comprehend the word/concept in context.
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

In this comprehensive, quixotic and addictive book, Edwin Trommelen explores all facets of the Russian obsession with vodka. Peering chiefly through the lenses of history and literature, Trommelen offers up an appropriately complex, rich and bittersweet portrait, based on great respect for Russian culture.
Moscow and Muscovites

Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin. 
A Taste of Chekhov

A Taste of Chekhov

This compact volume is an introduction to the works of Chekhov the master storyteller, via nine stories spanning the last twenty years of his life.
A Taste of Russia

A Taste of Russia

The definitive modern cookbook on Russian cuisine has been totally updated and redesigned in a 30th Anniversary Edition. Layering superbly researched recipes with informative essays on the dishes' rich historical and cultural context, A Taste of Russia includes over 200 recipes on everything from borshch to blini, from Salmon Coulibiac to Beef Stew with Rum, from Marinated Mushrooms to Walnut-honey Filled Pies. A Taste of Russia shows off the best that Russian cooking has to offer. Full of great quotes from Russian literature about Russian food and designed in a convenient wide format that stays open during use.
Okudzhava Bilingual

Okudzhava Bilingual

Poems, songs and autobiographical sketches by Bulat Okudzhava, the king of the Russian bards. 
Murder and the Muse

Murder and the Muse

KGB Chief Andropov has tapped Matyushkin to solve a brazen jewel heist from Picasso’s wife at the posh Metropole Hotel. But when the case bleeds over into murder, machinations, and international intrigue, not everyone is eager to see where the clues might lead.
Russian Rules

Russian Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
White Magic

White Magic

The thirteen tales in this volume – all written by Russian émigrés, writers who fled their native country in the early twentieth century – contain a fair dose of magic and mysticism, of terror and the supernatural. There are Petersburg revenants, grief-stricken avengers, Lithuanian vampires, flying skeletons, murders and duels, and even a ghostly Edgar Allen Poe.
Chekhov Bilingual

Chekhov Bilingual

Some of Chekhov's most beloved stories, with English and accented Russian on facing pages throughout. 

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