An intense, incredible story of Russian fortitude and misery.

LENINGRAD: SEIGE AND SYMPHONY

THE STORY OF THE GREAT CITY TERRORIZED BY STALIN, STARVED BY HITLER, IMMORTALIZED BY SHOSTAKOVICH

A history of the Nazis’ death grip on Leningrad artist Dmitri Shostakovich and others.

Before the Germans encircled the city and cut it off from the “mainland” in September 1941, Leningrad had already endured Stalin’s horrific reign of terror and repression during the 1930s. British journalist Moynahan (The French Century: An Illustrated History of Modern France, 2012, etc.) approaches this work with great energy and a solid historical background, sifting through the victims of the NKVD’s brutality with such care and detail that the narrative is sometimes difficult to digest. As one of the city’s most illustrious residents, pianist and composer Shostakovich (1906-1975) had enjoyed tremendous success from his early 20s writing ballets, operas, films and symphonies until 1936, when his work ran afoul of Stalin and was officially denounced in the Leningrad paper as “bourgeois” and “formalist”—i.e., Western-influenced, modernist and lacking the appropriate social realism. Henceforth, the composer was on tenterhooks, as so many fellow artists around him were denounced, imprisoned, tortured and shot. Yet Shostakovich’s work was world-famous, and Stalin recognized his propaganda appeal. With the Nazi tentacles encircling Leningrad, the composer began his Seventh Symphony in patriotic response: “I wanted to create the image of our embattled country, to engrave it in music.” Before he could finish it, however, he was ordered to leave Leningrad with his wife and children; they were airlifted to Moscow and then Kuibyshev, where they enjoyed a comfortable stay for the duration of the war, while his compatriots were starved and weakened by disease and freezing cold. The Seventh debuted to great fanfare in Moscow, London and America, and it eventually found its way back to Leningrad, orchestrated by 100-plus musicians fainting from hunger but resolute for its first hometown performance.

An intense, incredible story of Russian fortitude and misery.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2316-9

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more