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10 Great Books for the 100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution

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Tuesday, November 7th marks the centenary of the October Revolution, the date Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized power in Petrograd. Commemorate that earth-shaking event with these ten fantastic books about Russia and Russians, found in the store and online at Interabang Books!

The Siege Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802139580
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - November 22nd, 2002

Award-winning British author Helen Dunmore gives us an intimate story of one of the great human tragedies of the Second World War: the Siege of Leningrad. THE SIEGE follows a family living in the great city of Leningrad as it’s encircled by the German Wehrmacht, and through the subsequent years of starvation, fear, and survival. A brilliant, yet difficult read, THE SIEGE will push you as you experience the brutality of war alongside its protagonists.

Red Star over Russia: A Visual History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Death of Stalin Cover Image
ISBN: 9781854379351
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Published: Tate - September 20th, 2016

THE definitive visual history of the early years of the Soviet Union. Incredibly, RED STAR OVER RUSSIA manages to be both entertaining and terrifying— beautiful graphic design and photography on one page, and on the next, the portraits of men and women about to meet their fate in the horrible machinery of dictatorship. RED STAR OVER RUSSIA does more than present you with Soviet history— it confronts you.

Russia: A Short History Cover Image
ISBN: 9781786071422
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Published: ONEWorld Publications - October 17th, 2017

Ascher attempts the impossible: condense centuries of the world’s most melodramatic country into a few hundred pages. Miraculously, Ascher not only succeeds in RUSSIA: A SHORT HISTORY; he excels in creating an entertaining and digestible tour of Russian history from the conglomeration of Slavic city-states in the 11th Century all the way through the Soviet era. There’s a reason why this book is a classic… Ascher gives us the introduction we need to understand Russia as it is today.

The Brothers Karamazov: A Novel in Four Parts With Epilogue Cover Image
By Fyodor Dostoevsky, Richard Pevear (Translated by), Larissa Volokhonsky (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780374528379
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - June 14th, 2002

Look, you’ve always wanted to read it. And if you’ve already read it, there’s never been a better time to revisit THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV. What’s special about his edition of THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV is its translation; Pevear and Volokhonsky are the masterful translators of all the major Russian authors, and their work on Dostoevsky’s magnum opus is their own greatest accomplishment. Now’s the time. You have permission.

The Master and Margarita: 50th-Anniversary Edition (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Cover Image
By Mikhail Bulgakov, Richard Pevear (Translated by), Larissa Volokhonsky (Translated by), Boris Fishman (Foreword by), Christopher Conn Askew (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780143108276
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Published: Penguin Classics - May 3rd, 2016

Considered Mikahil Bulgakov’s masterpiece, THE MASTER & MARGARITA is the story of an author living in St. Petersburg who meets and makes a deal with the devil. A scathing satire of the Soviet system, much of THE MASTER & MARGARITA’s excellence is in its carefully cloaked commentary on politics and society. In the expert hands of translators Pevear and Volokhonsky, this Bulgakov classic shines.

Mikhail and Margarita: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609453756
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Published: Europa Editions - March 14th, 2017

MIKHAIL AND MARGARITA is, as you might guess, a take on Bulgakov’s aforementioned classic. In this case, Himes creates a fictionalized account of Mikhail Bulgakov’s time in Moscow, as he and his real-life friend, the legendary Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, both use a woman named Margarita as the muse for their greatest work. Vivid and moving, Himes gives us in MIKHAIL AND MARGARITA a rewarding, if startling, depiction of an artist’s life against the backdrop of dictatorship.

The Russian Revolution: A New History Cover Image
ISBN: 9780465039906
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Published: Basic Books - May 30th, 2017

One hundred years later, and we’re still trying to understand the innumerable facets of the Russian Revolution. McKeenin makes a brilliant and timely contribution with THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION. Bolstered by the deluge of documentary evidence unleashed in the opening of the Soviet archives in the 1990s, McKeenin’s thesis is relatively simple: revolution was inevitable, but not in its traditionally-understood sense. Beautiful, complex, and holistic, this is perhaps the most comprehensive English-language history of the revolution to date.

Doctor Zhivago (Vintage International) Cover Image
By Boris Pasternak, Richard Pevear (Translated by), Larissa Volokhonsky (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780307390950
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Published: Vintage - October 4th, 2011

I maintain that the Russian canon thus translated to English is “completed” by Pasternak’s DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, as the symmetry of Pasternak’s story gives all of the nation’s literature a wonderful self-awareness. Few books have such an effect on their canons— I can only think of Pynchon’s GRAVITY’S RAINBOW as a possible example in English. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO is sweeping, dynamic, and heart-wrenching. It’s a love story, a war story, and a biographic epic. Read it, and understand the nation and its people in new and striking ways.

October: The Story of the Russian Revolution Cover Image
ISBN: 9781784782771
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Published: Verso - May 9th, 2017

Miéville brings his talents in storytelling to his OCTOBER: THE STORY OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION. This condensed history isn’t as rigorous as other nonfictions on this list, but it’s charm is in the compelling story of the revolution as conveyed in a narrative. It’s a digestible, quick read, and worth your time and attention.

Life and Fate Cover Image
By Vasily Grossman, Robert Chandler (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781590172018
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Published: NYRB Classics - May 16th, 2006

LIFE AND FATE is the definition of heart-wrenching. Grossman, one of the great Stalin-era Soviet authors, populates LIFE AND FATE with the characters and situations of the Second World War he himself experienced as a journalist attached to the Red Army. This book holds the dubious honor of being one of only two books ever arrested by the KGB, and no wonder; Grossman’s story, aside from being a powerful tale of personal survival, is also a violent indictment of the Soviet regime. This is a 20th Century classic.