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review 2017-11-16 00:00
October: The Story of the Russian Revolution
October: The Story of the Russian Revolu... October: The Story of the Russian Revolution - China Miéville
The revolution of 1917 is a revolution of trains. History proceeding in screams of cold metal.
Γεμάτη δράση η μυθιστορηματική αποτύπωση των γεγονότων που οδήγησαν στην Οκτωβριανή Επανάσταση, με τη διαφορά πως ως υλικό η πραγματική ζωή σε αντίθεση με την πλοκή ενός μυθιστορήματος είναι πιο ιδιόμορφη και πολύ πιο λεπτομερής. Ο αριθμός των εμπλεκόμενων ατόμων και μερών, οι αποφάσεις που πάρθηκαν και που ακυρώθηκαν, το χάος κι η επανάσταση που κινήθηκε σαν ένα τρένο τη νύχτα, φαινομενικά ασταμάτητη κι αναμφισβήτητα επικίνδυνη δίνονται με τρομερή ενάργεια, ενώ o Miéville εμφανίζεται να κατέχει το ζήτημα που αναλύει, ιστορικά και ιδεολογικά, απεικονίζοντας άρτια και τίμια την ακατάστατη διαδικασία και τα λάθη των dramatis personae, μένοντας όσο το δυνατόν πιο απροκατάληπτος, ισχυριζόμενος πως
Those who count themselves on the side of the revolution must engage with these failures and crimes. To do otherwise is to fall into apologia, special pleading, hagiography – and to run the risk of repeating such mistakes.
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review 2016-10-29 00:00
1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution
1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian... 1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution - Boris Dralyuk 4,5 stars.

I'm a bit like Bob Dylan at the moment. Speechless.

A wonderful collection of excellent prose.

I'm not a regular non-fiction & anthologies reader. But I enormously enjoyed this collection.
I saw some names that mean a lot to me, and I became curious. Russian Soviet classic in English? Why not? The end result: I stayed AWAKE the half of the night. I was hooked, I was amazed, I was proud to be able also to read ALL of these authors in the original language. But I have to admit that I didn't know many names, and I googled and as a result -I learned a lot.

And OMG how UP TO DATE these stories are!..

Boris Dralyuk made a great job. The important historical facts that give insights into this turbulent and fateful period of time, that filled the places between the stories and poems, and brilliantly chosen literary fragments...WOW.

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review 2016-10-12 22:05
Vozhd
Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar - Simon Sebag Montefiore

Montefiore's history of Jerusalem happened to be the first book I reviewed on Booklikes and I was happy to revisit the author with another one of his works. It seems that every time I pick up a history book in a book shop it is endorsed by Montefiore, he's clearly very passionate in his pursuit of historical knowledge. 

 

This book centres around Stalin and his changing inner circle. It's an odd blend of details of dinner functions, Stalin's character in calm times and the chronicles of the terror and his political brutality. It's a fascinating glimpse into the sycophantic fervour he fostered amongst his magnates and the cunning, horrific nature of his paranoid mind. I've given it five stars, because probably fittingly, after Kershaw's Hitler this is simply the best biography of a historical leader that I have read. 

 

Anyone who harbours any romanticism or flirts with the hard left I advise to read this and recognise the dangers of unswerving idealism, the dangers of being an illiberal bent on realising a utopia for humanity in the future at any cost to the people of this life. I had always thought that Stalin wasn't overly ideologically motivated, yet this book seeks to dispel that notion comparing the avidity of Stalin's belief in Marxism to that displayed in radical Islamists. 

 

Something touched upon in the book and spoken about in debates by Christopher Hitchens is the idea that the Tsar in Romanov times was the voice of God himself, understand that and you may be able to understand the cult of personality that Stalin was able to engineer and take advantage of. The idea of a strong, powerful leader was ingrained into Russian society and it is an interesting feature of the revolution, that despite its attempts to turn society on its head with the ultimate goal of Communism, the aura of leadership remained steadfast. 

 

It fascinated me that the sons and daughters of some of those murdered and tortured beyond repair on Stalin's orders still regarded him as a great leader. It is unfathomable to me that it is possible to inspire such unswerving loyalty amongst people. This is ultimately what draws me to these immensely flawed and yet ridiculously charismatic characters. There seems to be men and women who pop up from time to time under varying banners of ideology, be it religious/political who manage to cultivate vast followings and impact the course of human history through their actions.

 

And so I came to the end of the book having lived within the court of the red tsar through the eyes of his vicious inner circle and I was struck again by the surreal nature of it all. How terrifying is it? If you place enough power into the hands of the wrong person you can end up with a society in which an innocuous comment could result in years of torture and imprisonment or a painful death. How is it that a man so well read and intelligent as Stalin, uses that intelligence to create a cut throat, savage society in which even those closest to him are not safe from assassination? 

 

I guess my curiosity will never be sated.

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review 2014-05-06 17:08
Detailed, intimate, haunting, poignant: Four lives rescued from history’s shadows
The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra - Helen Rappaport

Comprehensive and well documented, this joint biography of the last Tsar’s four daughters stops just short of their violent deaths at the hands of revolutionaries, but it’s a poignant and haunting story from start to finish. Lovely, intelligent, and good humored, sisters Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia were seen as a unit, even referring to themselves as OTMA, but they come alive as individuals in the chapters of this book, with (roughly speaking) Olga the most emotional, Tatiana the most responsible, Maria the best natured, and Anastasia the most spirited. Their parents Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra come across as devoted and doting, fatalistically pious in their beliefs, but not temperamentally suited for public life, and the Tsarevich Alexei, their lively younger brother, romps through the pages as much as his hemophilia allows.

 

Using sources that include their diaries and letters, the four sisters often get to speak for themselves. Their lives were sheltered, isolated, and privileged, but full of contradictions. They had lots of family love and idyllic summer excursions, but their mother was often incapacitated by illness, and Alexey was regularly bedridden and in great pain. The four were expected to marry well, especially Olga as the eldest, but they were kept from society so their crushes were on soldiers that guarded them, not European royals or members of their own class. They played silly child-like games far into adolescence, but during WWI spent their days tending to badly injured and disfigured soldiers, especially Tatiana who worked as a surgery nurse.


Too thorough and detailed to read like a novel, The Romanov Sisters is still moving and a hard book to put down, capturing some fascinating bits of history and rescuing Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia from history’s shadows. I read an advanced review copy of this book provided by the publisher. The opinions are mine.

Source: jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/875961/detailed-intimate-haunting-poignant-four-lives-rescued-from-history-s-shadows
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review 2014-04-29 04:02
Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Plot for Global Revolution
Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Plot for Global Revolution - Giles Milton
Russian Roulette tells the unknown story of a group of British spies smuggled into Soviet Russia on an undercover mission of vital importance.
They were tasked with thwarting Lenin’s Bolshevik-Islamic plot to topple British India and the Western democracies.
The British spies were self taught and well versed in dirty tricks. Over the next three years, they would be involved in murder, deception and duplicity on a grand scale. Living in disguise - and constantly switching identities - they would infiltrate Soviet commissariats, the Red Army and Cheka (secret police), and would come within a whisker of assassinating Lenin. The pinnacle of their achievement was to unpick Lenin’s plot for global revolution. Their work was to have an unexpected consequence, one that continues to influence our lives today.
Drawn from previously unknown secret documents held in the Indian Political Intelligence archives, Giles Milton gives a remarkable insight into the murky world of espionage, murder and deception that took place inside post-revolutionary Russia. (source)
 
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