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Russian history fixation sets in

I knew going to St. Petersburg and reading War and Peace would probably resurrect a long interest in Russian and Soviet history. I didn’t realize until last night or so that the mania may have set in.

I didn’t find it odd that I read a quite good biography of Catherine the Great a week or so ago. I’d been intrigued by The Forsaken, a book about Americans caught in Stalin’s gulag, since seeing it in the local bookstore chain this month. As a result, it didn’t strike me as odd to make it one of the four books at a buck each I got for once again enrolling in the History Book Club after a couple year absence.

What didn’t really sink in until last night, though, was what the other three books I ordered indicated. I also selected Leningrad: State of Siege (Leningrad was St. Petersburg’s nom de guerre from the 1920s until the 1990s), Young Stalin, and One Minute to Midnight. While the latter might also be classifed as U.S. history, it was seeing the three sitting on the bookshelf together as I had The Forsaken in my hand that confirmed a fixation was setting in.

Added to my continuing interest in foreign fiction, my reading habits clearly display addictive tendencies. Oh well, there are far worse addictions.


[Russia] is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

Winston Churchill, October 1, 1939

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1 comment to Russian history fixation sets in

  • j

    War and Peace is of course an extraordinary piece of writing; I first read it one summer night when walking over the many hills of Rapid City, and ultimately reading it with the sun coming up, transfixed, from early light to the end, stunned I suppose by how the book made the triumph of Kutuzov seem inevitable. I would suggest, if you are looking for Russian history, to read Stalin’s Folly by Pleshakov. It lays out the first ten days of Barbarossa in such a way as to illuminate Russian cold war thinking and to make clear to an American how much of WW II was fought on the Russian front