Monday, November 11, 2013


FORMER PEOPLE, by Douglas Smith,  a history of the Russian aristocratic families Sheremetev and Golitsyn  after the Bolshevik  Revolution,  is my choice for book of the year. This was not as easy choice. Throughout the year, I  received  copies of wonderful new work from publishing houses such as  Penguin, McMillan, and Picador. NetGalley also made exciting new work available to me. Why did I choose a history book rather than a novel?While I love fiction I also  love history books, particularly when they are meticulously documented, well-thought out and written with grace and elegance. I thoroughly enjoyed BUNKER HILL by Nathanael Philbrick and JUST SEND ME WORD, by Orlando Figges. I recommend both as great gifts for lovers of history. I am partial to Russian history, though,  and FORMER PEOPLE is Russian history made as vivid and as immediate as if the author had been present when the events he describes took place. This book does more than traces the destruction of the Sheremetev clan and the persecution, dispersion and ultimate survival of the Golitsyns. It delves into the root causes of the Bolshevik Revolution, it refers to historical documents and literature--Vladmir Nabokov's memoirs, for example--and it emerges as a page turner as fascinating as a good Russian novel.  I love it and I think you will too.

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