Tag Archives: Russia

It is a short walk from the hallelujah to the hoot… Vladimir Nabokov

Authors must address their work to either the sacred or the profane and should they choose the latter their work will most like vacillate between the pedestrian and the pornographic. Nabokov, like so many emigres and exiles [and distinguishing between the two is often difficult], became a darling of the West for supposedly having chosen liberal democracy over Bolshevism. In reality the liberal democracies simply allowed a different type of freedom to exploit just like the Bolshevism presented a new opportunity for tyranny.

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Although we lament Russia’s decline back into tyranny under Putin we must note that it still apes some of the affectations of European liberal democracy that had their advent under Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Nabokov might well be welcomed there although just as he finally wound up spending his exile first in Europe, then in the United States and finally in Switzerland – after the United States with its typical good sense recognized LOLITA for exactly what it is – he may ultimately be Swiss, a nation of counting houses that produces nothing but cheese full of holes and cuckoo clocks.

Imagining Nabokov : Russia between art and politics Nina L. Khrushcheva New Haven : Yale University Press, c 2007 Hardcover. 1st ed., later printing. xvii, 233 p. ; 22 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 227-233). Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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Vladimir Nabokov’s exile to the West after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution allowed him to take a crucial literary journey, leaving the closed nineteenth-century Russian culture behind and arriving in the extreme openness of twentieth-century America. In Imagining Nabokov, Khrushcheva offers the novel hypothesis that because of this journey, the works of Russian-turned-American Vladimir Nabokov are highly relevant to the political transformation under way in Russia today.

Khrushcheva, a Russian living in America, finds in Nabokov’s novels a useful guide for Russia’s integration into the globalized world. Now one of Nabokov’s “Western” characters herself, she discusses the cultural and social realities of contemporary Russia that he foresaw a half-century earlier.

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In Pale Fire; Ada, or Ardor; Pnin; and other works, Nabokov reinterpreted the traditions of Russian fiction, shifting emphasis from personal misery and communal life to the notion of forging one’s own “happy” destiny. In the twenty-first century Russia faces a similar challenge, Khrushcheva contends, and Nabokov’s work reveals how skills may be acquired to cope with the advent of democracy, capitalism, and open borders.

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What we prize most is peace and an opportunity to devote all our efforts to restoring our economy… Lenin

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Spies and commissars : Bolshevik Russia and the West Robert Service London : Macmillan, 2011 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xvi, 440 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps, ports. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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The early years of Bolshevik rule were marked by dynamic interaction between Russia and the West. These years of civil war in Russia were years when the West strove to understand the new communist regime while also seeking to undermine it. Meanwhile, the Bolsheviks tried to spread their revolution across Europe at the same time they were seeking trade agreements that might revive their collapsing economy.

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This book tells the story of these complex interactions in detail, revealing that revolutionary Russia was shaped not only by Lenin and Trotsky, but by an extraordinary miscellany of people: spies and commissars, certainly, but also diplomats, reporters, and dissidents, as well as intellectuals, opportunistic businessmen, and casual travelers.

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This is the story of these characters: everyone from the ineffectual but perfectly positioned Somerset Maugham to vain writers and revolutionary sympathizers whose love affairs were as dangerous as their politics. Through this sharply observed exposé of conflicting loyalties, we get a very vivid sense of how diverse the shades of Western and Eastern political opinion were during these years.

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With the advent of spring and beginning of the new harvest season the creators of abundance, our peasants, come out to the fields to sow with good aspirations and hopes… Islom Karimov

During the 1970’s the United States of America shipped tons of grain to the Soviet Union since that socialist paradise was no longer able to feed itself. I worked loading many of these ships and my father’s family had come from the Ukraine at the turn of the 20th century in the great wave of displaced peasants who came to the United States with their knowledge of growing wheat that formed the basis of the agricultural industry that fed their former countrymen three-quarters of a century later. This history is no longer celebrated since it might contradict the current wisdom but just as it is easy for the ignorant to misidentify the pile in the barnyard it is a good deal harder to fool flies – or peasants!

Heretics and colonizers : forging Russia’s empire in the south Caucasus  Nicholas B. Breyfogle  Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 2005  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xvii, 347 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 319-338) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Russian types of Tartar, (i.e., Tatar), women of the Caucasus, Russia

Russian types of Tartar, (i.e., Tatar), women of the Caucasus, Russia

In Heretics and Colonizers, Breyfogle explores the dynamic intersection of Russian borderland colonization and popular religious culture. He reconstructs the story of the religious sectarians (Dukhobors, Molokans, and Subbotniks) who settled, either voluntarily or by force, in the newly conquered lands of Transcaucasia in the nineteenth century. By ordering this migration in 1830, Nicholas I attempted at once to cleanse Russian Orthodoxy of heresies and to populate the newly annexed lands with ethnic Slavs who would shoulder the burden of imperial construction.

Women baking bread outdoors, Caucasus, Georgia (Republic)

Women baking bread outdoors, Caucasus, Georgia (Republic)

Breyfogle focuses throughout on the lives of the peasant settlers, their interactions with the peoples and environment of the South Caucasus, and their evolving relations with Russian state power. He draws on a wide variety of archival sources, including a large collection of previously unexamined letters, memoirs, and other documents produced by the sectarians that allow him unprecedented insight into the experiences of colonization and religious life. Although the settlers suffered greatly in their early years in hostile surroundings, they in time proved to be not only model Russian colonists but also among the most prosperous of the Empire’s peasants. Banished to the empire’s periphery, the sectarians ironically came to play indispensable roles in the tsarist imperial agenda.

Two women winnowing grain, Caucasus, Georgia (Republic)

Two women winnowing grain, Caucasus, Georgia (Republic)

The book culminates with the dramatic events of the Dukhobor pacifist rebellion, a movement that shocked the tsarist government and received international attention. In the early twentieth century, as the Russian state sought to replace the sectarians with Orthodox settlers, thousands of Molokans and Dukhobors immigrated to North America, where their descendants remain to this day.

Doukhobor pilgrims landing at Yorkton, Canada, Oct. 28, 1902

Doukhobor pilgrims landing at Yorkton, Canada, Oct. 28, 1902

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I am not yet ready to be Tsar. I know nothing of the business of ruling… Nicholas II

The plots to rescue the Tsar  Shay McNeal  New York, Morrow, 2001  Hardcover. 1st US ed. and printing. 345 p. : ill., facsims., maps, ports. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 284-300) index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

On July 17, 1918, the Tsar, his wife, and their four daughters and ailing heir were led down to a basement in Ekaterinburg, Russia, and murdered in cold blood by a Bolshevik firing squad. The DNA analysis and identification of the bones were the conclusive proof the world was waiting for, and the case was considered closed. But is that the real story of the Romanovs?


In Shay McNeal’s controversial and groundbreaking account, she presents convincing new scientific analysis questioning the authenticity of the “Romanov” bones and uncovers an extraordinary tale of espionage and double-dealing that has been kept secret for more than eighty years. Based on extensive study of American, Allied, and Bolshevik documents, including recently declassified intelligence files, McNeal reveals the existence of a shadowy group of operatives working to free the Imperial family and guide them to safety.

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Stalin is a Genghis Khan, an unscrupulous intriguer, who sacrifices everything else to the preservation of power … He changes his theories according to whom he needs to get rid of next… Nikolai Bukharin

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Joseph Stalin was not a peasant in the classical Russian sense of the term but his origins were certainly mean. Like most who claw their way to the top of a political machine he had no scruples about how he used the machine’s members and no dedication to its principles – self aggrandisement and consolidation of power were his only guiding lights. While we tend to think of the Soviet State in terms of a single personality from Lenin to Putin the truth of the matter is that each leader has had a set of apparatchiks to do their bidding. We have illustrated this entry with members of Stalin’s Politburo – many of whom survived him – but only one of who succeeded him – the true Russian peasant Khrushchev. All of these men served 20 years or more and while most are unknown to us they embody the proof that even tyranny can not exist without administrators.

Voroshilov, Kliment

Voroshilov, Kliment

Master of the house : Stalin and his inner circle  Oleg V. Khlevniuk ; translated by Nora Seligman Favorov  New Haven : Yale University Press, 2009  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xxv, 313 p. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 273-302) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Molotov, Vyacheslav

Molotov, Vyacheslav

Based on previously  unavailable documents in the Soviet archives, this  book illuminates the secret inner mechanisms of power in the Soviet Union during the years when Stalin established his dictatorship.  Khlevniuk focuses on the top organ in Soviet Russia’s political hierarchy of the 1930s — the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party — and on the political and interpersonal dynamics that weakened its collective leadership and enabled Stalin’s rise.

Mikoyan, Anastas

Mikoyan, Anastas

Khlevniuk’s research challenges existing theories of the workings of the Politburo and uncovers many new findings regarding the nature of alliances among Politburo members, Sergei Kirov’s murder, the implementation of the Great Terror, and much more. The author analyzes Stalin’s mechanisms of generating and retaining power and presents a new understanding of the highest tiers of the Communist Party in a crucial era of Soviet history.

Khrushchev, Nikita

Khrushchev, Nikita

Kalinin, Mikhail

Kalinin, Mikhail

Kaganovich, Lazar

Kaganovich, Lazar

Andreyev, Andrey

Andreyev, Andrey

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