In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park

In Order to Live is an astonishing story of endurance, courage, and love. Yeonmi Park was thirteen years old when she and her mother escaped from North Korea. In Order to Live tells their incredible story of survival, suffering, and eventual freedom. I’ve always had a fascination with the Cold War and Communism in general, … Continue reading In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (1957-8)

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (1890 - 1960) is an epic Russian novel that takes place during the socialist revolution of 1905 and the years up to World War II. Philosophical and beautifully written, it is sometimes difficult to follow as it has a cast of thousands and everyone is known by about three or … Continue reading Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (1957-8)

Living books for the 20th Century: Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng (1986)

  'On the evening of 30 August when the Red Guards came to loot my house... I was sitting alone in my study reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich...'   What an incredible story this is! Nien Cheng's memoir, Life and Death in Shangai is saturated with spiritual and soul stretching lessons … Continue reading Living books for the 20th Century: Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng (1986)

Cancer Ward by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1966)

Russian author and Nobel Prize winner, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, completed his book Cancer Ward in 1966. English translations were published in 1968, and although book was banned in the Soviet Union, unauthorized Russian copies were distributed in samizdat.The story takes place in a male cancer ward of a Soviet hospital in the mid-1950's and revolves around … Continue reading Cancer Ward by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1966)

Stalin: Russia's Man of Steel by Albert Marrin

Stalin must command our unconditional respect. In his own way he is a hell of a fellow.  Stalin is half beast, half giant.   Adolf Hitler, 1942     "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." Joseph Stalin     Stalin: Russia's Man of Steel by Albert Marrin is a … Continue reading Stalin: Russia's Man of Steel by Albert Marrin

The Year of the Russian Novels

This has been my year of the Russian novel. Mind you, I've only read three but the first two, The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment both by Fydor Dostoevsky were epics - not just because of the length of the books themselves but also due to the rambling narrative and the confusion of keeping … Continue reading The Year of the Russian Novels