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A compelling review. Thank you. I, too, share a curiosity about Russia and how it came to do the things to its people. I will put this book on my list, Danielle, though I may need a long winter to give it a read.


Excellent review, Danielle.
I also struggle and cannot understand "why"? The lenghty chapters on Lenin and Stalin didn't really help me understanding although they brought the people a bit closer.
I'll never understand how you can become a totalitarian leader.
Grossman's humanity is what stood out the most for me.
In any case, I'd love to read Life and fate, if only it wasn't that long.


Thanks for the review and for participating.


Oh wow, this sounds so good. I don't know much about Russian history either and this would be a step toward that. I must figure out a way to read it in the coming months.


Quite a review Danielle, as it must have been quite a story. I think the seeds of many conflicts lie deep. I remember the difficulty I had reading Gulag Archipelago years ago. And I agree, it's important to do so anyway.


This sounds fascinating but not an easy read. I don't know much at all about Russian history either so for that alone I think this would be an important read. Great review, Danielle!


It actually reads faster than you might imagine--it's not too long--just over 200 pages (though Life and Fate is quite a hefty book). What I know about Russian history/politics is still very little, but every new thing I learn throws a little more light on it all.


I'm glad i am not the only one to still find Russian history so complex and complicated. I also wonder how someone can do the things Stalin did and still be able to look at yourself in the mirror, but also that so many people went along with him. I think I have more questions about it all now than I did before, though every new thing I read makes adds to what little knowledge I have. You might like An Armenian Sketchbook--more for the bits about Grossman than the travel aspect. i would love to read Life and Fate but think it will be a while before I pick that one up! Maybe it would make a good summer read....


Thanks for choosing the book--this year has been a good one for book choices. Even though I am often late in finishing and writing about the books, I enjoy the idea of reading along with others--I've discovered/read some really great books I think I might not otherwise have picked up (and can't wait to see next year's list).


I think you would like this--very different from An Armenian Sketchbook but you can still feel Grossman's personality coming through. And it isn't too much longer than An Armenian Sketchbook either.


It was an interesting book--the story sort of sidetracked when Grossman started writing about the more straightforward historical aspects of those years in the early 20th century, but I didn't think it really suffered for it--it was still quite powerful story--maybe even more so since it put everything into a context. I would like to read Solzhenitzen sometime--definitely need a breather after this but I think I will have to add him to my list and look out for good used copies of his books. But books like this really need to be taken in small doses I think.


Thanks Iliana--I'm not sure I did the book justice, but it was good to think about it when I was writing about it. I'm glad I read it and now have a little taste for Russian history--will be looking for some other things to read I think (have already pulled out a couple of mysteries set in Russia...).

Liz F

Fascinating post. I know a bit about Russian history but it is rather polarised - I've read about Catherine the Great but after that it is either Nicholas and Alexandra or Stalingrad and nothing much in between or after.
The library have this book, Life and Fate and a book about Grossman's time with the Red Army during WW2 so I have the first and last on request and will see how I go.

I remember reading a fair number of romantic mysteries set in Tsarist Russia when I was a lot younger - all troika journeys through snowy forests with the heroine looking very fetching in a fur hooded cloak and tall, dark heroes called Nicolai or Sergei! Very romantic!
I think the ones I read were by the wonderfully named Constance Heaven but if you want something more modern and rather grittier, then either The Siege by Helen Dunmore or Paulina Simons's trilogy beginning with The Bronze Horseman all set around the siege of Stalingrad (Leningrad/St Petersburg) are really compelling reads.


I've not read a whole lot of fiction set in Russia, though I have read some NF books (surprising for me really as it is usually the opposite). I read a fictionalized account of the murder of the Tsar and his family. I did read the first two books by Paullina Simons--and the first one I have read several times. I am undecided whether to read the last book or not--I love the first one so much and the second one was pretty good. I have The Siege on hand--must pull it out. Have you read The Virgins of Leningrad (can't remember the author now), which is also set during WWII. I saw a nice used copy of Life and Fate at my favorite used bookstore. I didn't buy it and of course am now kicking myself!!

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