My Russian Book Bibliography

I’d like to share with you the list of books I have read that give the reader important insight into Russian history, philosophy, culture, and politics. My aim is to give you good resources available for free. Much of Russia’s celebrated literature is in the public domain. So too are many tracts written around the time of the Russian Revolution. There are some outstanding sources on the web to get these materials. I’m also particularly partial to ebooks, so most of my references will be made to where you can download the best books.  There will be several examples of books that I simply bought and sit comfortably on my bookshelf. However, many of them are available at your local public library. I will start this little project with the actual bibliographical information and then expand it, as I can, to short reviews of them. As these come along, I will point out to you why these books are important and how they contribute to a greater understanding of Russia.

Free Books:

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. The Dream Of A Ridiculous Man. London, – Lindsay Drummond Ltd., 1945.

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Notes from Underground. Grand Rapids, MI. – William B Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2009.

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. The Idiot. London: Penguin Books, 2004.

Gogol, Nikolai. The Inspector-General. London: Penguin Classics, 2006.

Gogol, Nikolai. Dead Souls. London: Penguin Classics, 1995.

Gogol, Nicolai. The Overcoat. London: Penguin Classics, 2006.

Goldman, Emma. My Disillusionment in Russia. Garden City, NY.: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1923

Jones, C. Sheridan. Bolshevism: Its Cause and Cure. London: Stanley Paul & Co., 1919.

Kliefoth, Alfred Will. Bolshevism, by an Eyewitness from Wisconsin. Milwaukee, WI.: American Constitutional League of Wisconsin, 1920.

Lermontov, Mikhail Yurevich. A Hero of Our Time. Public Domain Books, 2006.

Richter, Eugene. Pictures of the Socialistic Future. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co. Ltd., 1907.

Saltykov, Mikhail Evgrafovich. A Family of Noblemen. New York: Boni & Liveright, Inc., 1917.

Tolstoy, Alexei. Aelita. New York: Macmillan, 1981.

Tolstoy, Leo. Hadji Murad. Hazleton, PA: The Pennsylvania State University, 1904.

Tolstoy, Leo. The Cossacks. New York City: Scribner’s, 1878.

Turgenev, Ivan. Diary of a Superfluous Man. London: William Heinemann, 1894, 1899.

Turgenev, Ivan. Fathers and Sons. New York City: Modern Library, 2001.

Purchased Books or Library Books:

Applebaum, Anne. Gulag: A History. New York: Doubleday, 2003.

Bulgakov, Mikhail. Heart Of A Dog. New York: Grove Press, 1986.

Bulgakov, Mikhail. The Master and Margarita. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.

Chambers, Whittaker. Witness. Washington, DC: Regnery Pub., 2001.

Conquest, Robert. The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Dornberg, John. Brezhnev. Delhi: Vikas Pub. House, 1974.

Figes, Orlando. A People’s Tragedy: Russian Revolution, 1891-1924. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1998.

Figes, Orlando. The Whisperers. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007.

Fischer, John. Why They Behave Like Russians. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1947.

Goldman, Marshall I. What Went Wrong with Perestroika (Updated). New York: Norton, 1991.

Grossman, Vasily. Life and Fate. New York: New York Review Books, 2006.

Grossman, Vasily. Everything Flows. New York: New York Review Books, 2009.

Kennan, George F. Russia and the West Under Lenin and Stalin. Boston, MA.: Little, Brown & Company, 1961.

Koestler, Arthur. Darkness at Noon: A Novel. New York: Scribner, 2006.

Krushchev, Nikita. Krushchev Remembers – The Last Testament. Boston, MA.: Little, Brown & Company, 1974.

Lyons, Eugene. Assignment in Utopia: An Autobiography. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1937.

Medvedev, Zhores A. Andropov. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1983.

Merridale, Catherine. Ivan’s War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006.

Molotov, V.M. Molotov Remembers: Inside Kremlin Politics. Chicago: Terra Publishing Center, 1991.

Payne, Robert . The Rise and Fall of Stalin. New York: Macmillan & Co., 1968.

Service, Robert. Comrades! Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 2007.

Service, Robert. Stalin: A Biography. Cambridge, MA.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005.

Service, Robert. Trotsky: A Biography. Cambridge, MA.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009.

Snyder, Timothy. Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. New York: Basic Books, 2010.

Solzhenitsyn, Alexander. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. NAL Trade; Reprint edition, 2009.

Ulam, Adam B. Stalin: Tha Man and His Era. Boston: Beacon Press, 1973.


Communism and its Factions

As I’ve studied Communism, the numerous splits and factions that occurred within it grew ever more confusing to me. There are so many variants, that I decided to identify as many as I could and summarize them in a clear way. I narrowed my scope only to any faction relevant to Russia and the Soviet Union. It was tempting to delve into groups that formed in Europe or Asia, but the list simply became too unwieldy. Some factions, frankly, barely existed and were mere figments of Stalin’s imagination. Still, there are enough points of view that live in the spectrum of Communism to make them worthy of review. As always, one man’s ideology was another man’s deviation. People lived and died in defense of these ideals. To understand them helps students like me keep track of how the perpetual political machinations in Communist history took place. It also makes one see the full span of thought in man’s mind and soul.

This list is a work in progress, so please bear with me as I educate myself and turn those lessons into print. I will include key dates and figures, as necessary, along with any context that I view as worthy of further explanation. Also, many of these factions existed outside of Russia. However, I will usually omit them for the sake of brevity. In cases where non-Russians play a key role in the formulation of these ideas, I will include them and connect them to how they ultimately impacted Russia specifically. I will also provide footnotes and links to additional reading, as needed. Enjoy.

Continue reading

The Grand Russian and Soviet Chronology

Welcome to my attempt at building a thorough chronology of events leading to the Russian Revolution and beyond. I’ve created it for my own edification, so some may view it as overkill. However, the list gives you a very clear idea about how people and events weaved together over several decades to form what became the Soviet Union. I have collected the data from various websites that I tried to credit at the bottom as well as notes from my ongoing reading. I hope it helps you as much as it helps me. Continue reading

Russian Elections 2011: Not Much Ado About Something

Duma Elections 2011

Almost two weeks ago, some interesting events took place in Russia that caused much of the West to take pause. Russia’s Duma election returned surprising results where the majority party, United Russia, took a shellacking, and gave many people a thought or a hope that something had finally changed in Putin’s Russia. Peter Robinson, of “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” fame excitedly asked if Russia had, at last, begun it’s march toward the West. I decided to write about this situation after I talked with several of my Russian friends in order to get an inside glimpse of what was really happening.

My conclusion is that something significant did happen, however, it will not produce the change that we typical Westerners crave for our Eurasian brothers. This is evolution and certainly not revolution. Vladimir Putin will win the presidential election in March and will still hold the reins of power for the next six years. If all goes well, he could even last a total of twelve years, but I won’t let myself get on such an untenable hook as Russia’s future. Continue reading

Second-Class is for Suckers

2nd-class Coupe

I don’t want to return to a second class coupe in a Russian train. Those days are over, thank you. Even without a job, I started springing for a first-class berth. Sometimes I even bought the whole darn thing so that I could travel in peace. The air conditioning helped a bunch, too. Look, it’s like this: I’ve been through the ringer enough. I’ve carried my burdens, I’ve endured my trials, I’ve collected my stories, its’ time to relax now. I can see the same thing out the window as a cheaper ticket. I just get to sleep in coolness and comfort. I’ve earned that.

Gone are the days when I used to buy a second class ticket on an all-night train. I’d cram all my belongings into my assigned space, writhe and wiggle around three other travelers, notice the “he ain’t from around here” scrutiny, and then lie back on my berth sweaty and heart pounding. I had to assess my cabin mates. Will they snore? Will they break out the vodka? Will they talk or just ignore me. Will they smell? I’ve done it enough. I’m done. And once I do complete my assessment, once I do implement all anti-theft procedures, I brace myself for the attempt to actually sleep in this hotbox. This is the last time. I always say. But it never is. But now it is official, it is the very last time.

Six Years Gone By

Nizhny Novgorod

. . . the capacity to wish and to do – to throw oneself headlong into a bottomless abyss without knowing why or wherefore.

                                                              – Leo Tolstoy

I’m home now.  It’s been six years.  I think I did just what the quote from Leo Tolstoy said above.  People ask me why I did it, but I don’t truly know.  I found something I wanted to do and I acted upon it.  I was too excited to notice the abyss.  Now that I look back on it, I’m thankful I was naïve.  After all, I got away with it in the end.

I moved to Russia on August 23, 2004.  Intel Corporation sent me there to set up a Marketing Center in a regional city called Nizhny Novgorod.  I lived there for nearly five years, quit my job, and then moved to Odessa, Ukraine for just over a year.  I want to tell you about those six years.

I’m really writing this for myself.  That’s the target audience.  I want to record this chapter in my life since it has just ended and I’ve had time to reflect.  If you can tolerate self-indulgence, keep reading.  If not, that’s okay, it’s not for sale anyway. Continue reading

Meeting Strangers

Gorky Sea

I’ve met many interesting strangers in Russia.  The vast majority of the experiences have been very positive.  In 2005, I met a delightful stranger that captures the essence of the “typical” Russian.  I went to the Gorky Sea, a large reservoir outside Nizhny Novgorod, that acted as the regional getaway since Soviet times.  On short notice, hotels are usually full, so locals rent out rooms in their apartments.  Boris negotiated one of these deals, and so we boarded in an infamous Soviet apartment building, our host, an elderly babushka.  Her apartment was big enough to host another couple in the room next to us.  There, a husband and wife, likely in their fifties, settled in for the weekend.  The meeting happened in typical fashion.  They noticed Boris and me speaking English and then fascination bolted out of the gate.  Once introduced as an American, the husband was simply stunned.  He’d never met an American before and was elated.  Again, in typical fashion, he insisted on drinking with me as a sign of welcome and friendship.  His gold teeth shimmered in the dreary room.  Within seconds, I heard the familiar “thump” of a bottle of vodka set on the table and the clinking of the shot glasses.  I feel I’m barely exaggerating that if I met a Russian in the middle of a desert, he’d have that bottle and glasses ready at any moment.  It was Boris’ translation that please me the most.  He said, “I’m not even able to translate how excited this guy is to meet you.”  How can you feel any more welcome than that?  Continue reading