Friday, September 20, 2013


Current circumstances make it impossible for me to devote as much time to this blog as I would like.I say that with a great deal of regret since I have on my desk at least a dozen books yet unread. They are the work of authors whose efforts deserve careful attention. My apologies. While I will not be posting my usual longish reviews for a while,  I do want to mention, in brief,
JUST SEND ME WORD, by Orlando Figes. This  is a love  remarkable story, told through 1,500 letters exchanged between Lev and Svetlana Mishenka during the eight years the former spent at a labor camp in Pechora, Siberia. The historic value of these uncensored letter--they were smuggled out of the camp--is enormous. They document life in a Siberian labor camp as well as the personal  life of a young couple caught in the web of Stalinist policies. Figes writes with great sensitivity and deep understanding of Russian history, which he explored in two previous books, NATASHA'S DANCE and THE CRIMEAN WAR. He he shines a golden  light on a modern day fairy tale that almost disappeared amid the debris of the collapsing Soviet Russia. Though far too intelligent to be called o ordinary people, Lev and Svetlana were not remarkably different from many other members of the Soviet Intelligentsia until a false accusation landed him in the Gulag. How Svetlana managed to make clandestine visits the camp, how she took time to write to Lev at least twice a week may not seem that extraordinary until you read the entire book and understand the conditions under which she helped sustain his spirit. Figes is a good, solid writer and JUST SEND WORD is a book of  unquestionable valuable and a superb addition to a Russian history library.

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