An affecting travelogue that reveals true Russian personality.



Adventures in Russia over three trips in 20 years.

In 1995, Los Angeles–based ghostwriter Dickey ventured to Russia in her late 20s in order to perfect her Russian and ply her trade as a writer. A fortuitous advertisement and encounter with American photojournalist Gary Matoso resulted in a three-month trek from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg, where Dickey was based, meeting people in the Russian hinterlands and chronicling personal stories along the way. After her initial trip resulted in a blog, the author returned in 2005 to track down many of the same people the journalist duo had met in 1995. Finally, in 2015, Dickey returned alone to write this spirited account of regular Russians living in a vastly changed landscape from her 1995 visit. Moving back and forth to compare her earlier trips, Dickey witnessed the rise of tourism, once virtually unheard of; the flourishing of the once-vilified Jewish community in Birobidzhan despite the fact that many of the Jewish people she first met in 1995 had left; the rise of small entrepreneurs struggling in the wake of the “ruble krizis” such as in Chita, in eastern Siberia; the Buryat farmers of Galtai, who still slaughter sheep in the manner of Genghis Khan; the environmental damages to the magnificent freshwater Lake Baikal; the underground gay scene in Novosibirsk; and the travails of a Moscow rap star, among other stories. Now in middle age and married to a woman in LA, Dickey had to come out to many of her Russian acquaintances unfamiliar with lesbianism, and she dreaded their disapproval. However, despite the general anti-Western sentiment she endured—President Barack Obama was considered untrustworthy, while Ukraine was claimed as Russian—the author presents nuanced portraits.

An affecting travelogue that reveals true Russian personality.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09229-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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


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

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Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.


A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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