Books about Russia.


Doctor Zhivago (Two-Disc Special Edition)


David Lean focused all his talent as an epic-maker on Boris Pasternak's sweeping novel about a doctor-poet in revolutionary Russia. The results may sometimes veer toward soap opera, especially with the screen frequently filled with adoring close-ups of Omar Sharif and Julie Christie, but Lean's gift for cramming the screen with spectacle is not to be denied. The streets of Moscow, the snowy steppes of Russia, the house in the country taken over by ice; these are re-created with Lean's unerring sense of grandness. The movie is so lush and so long that it becomes an irresistible wallow, even when logic suffers--like Gone with the Wind before it and Titanic after. Sharif, who achieved stardom in Lean's previous film, Lawrence of Arabia, mostly looks noble, but the supporting cast is spiky: Rod Steiger as a fat-cat monster, Tom Courtenay as a self-righteous revolutionary, and Klaus Kinski and Alec Guinness in smaller roles. Geraldine Chaplin, in her adult debut, plays the doctor's compliant wife. Robert Bolt's screenplay won one of the film's five Oscars®, with another going to perhaps the most immediately recognizable element of the movie: Maurice Jarre's romantic music, with its hugely popular "Lara's Theme" weaving in and out of a swooning score. --Robert Horton

Doctor Zhivago


Since the Russian government forced Pasternak to renounce the Nobel Prize in 1958 and refused to allow publication of Dr. Zhivago in Russia, it's natural to think of it as a political novel. It is least, not primarily. Although the historic events in Russia from 1903 to 1943 form the chaotic background of the story, it's the human drama as seen through the eyes of Yurii Zhivago that gives it meaning. As Yurii becomes a prisoner of the Partisans, separated from his wife and family and then from his great love, Lara, his brooding intelligence finds courage and dignity far beyond that of any political ideology. Despite the superb narration of Philip Madoc, however, this isn't an easy book in audio. There are about sixty main characters, all with complicated Russian names, none printed in a list for clarification. Even if such a list is borrowed from a printed book, there are still confusing twists in the complicated plot as well as intimidating place names which can be difficult to follow on tape. Does this mean that the recorded book is impossible to understand? No, only that it's a challenge. But what an exciting challenge it is! With the eloquence of Philip Madoc as inspiration, a dedicated listener will be privileged to experience the full power of one of the great books of this century. J.C. (c) AudioFile, Portland, Maine


Moscow At Your Door (Culture Shock!)


Whether you travel for business, pleasure, or a combination of the two, the ever-popular CULTURE SHOCK! series belongs in your backpack or briefcase. Get the nuts-and-bolts information you need to survive and thrive wherever you go. CULTURE SHOCK! country guides are easy-to-read, accurate, and entertaining crash courses in local customs and etiquette. CULTURE SHOCK! practical guides offer the inside information you need whether you're a student, a parent, a globetrotter, or a working traveler. CULTURE SHOCK! AT YOUR DOOR guides equip you for daily life in some of the world's most cosmopolitan cities. And CULTURE SHOCK! SUCCESS SECRETS guides offer relevant, practical information with the real-life insights and cultural know-how that can make the difference between business success and failure.


Other Side of Russia: A Slice of Life in...


This is a fascinating travel book, with a lot of fun anecdotes and stories about horrific train rides, scary food (a sheep's head with the wool still on it, and blood pudding in a sheep's stomach, no way to say "no thank you" to the amiable hosts who are putting on a real spread for their guests.) If you are interested in Russia, in a part of Russia most Westerners never visit, you should read "The Other Side of Russia."

Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of...


Figes (history, Univ. of London; A People's Tragedy) describes the twists and turns of Russian history through cultural and artistic events from the founding of Rus in the 12th century through the Soviet era. He uses Tolstoy's War and Peace as a centerpiece of art imitating life. The title of Figes's book comes from the scene in which Natasha Rostov and her brother Nikolai are invited by their "uncle" to a rustic cabin to listen to him play Russian folk music on his guitar.

Balalaika: Russia's Most Beautiful Songs


A fabulous, and rousing musical CD by the Stars of St. Petersburg. They use the traditional instruments to play all the songs with the histories of the instruments in the CD jacket. An excellent CD to get to know the balalika and the wonderful music that it can bring to one's ears. The songs flow into each other to further the enjoyment of this CD. Highly recommend this CD to anyone who enjoys the Balalika or Russian music.

Russia's Beautiful Religious Songs


Description to follow.

The Hunt for Red October (Special...


Before Harrison Ford assumed the mantle of playing Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan hero in Patriot Games, Alec Baldwin took a swing at the character in this John McTiernan film and hit one to the fence. If less instantly sympathetic than Ford, Baldwin is in some respects more interesting and nuanced as Ryan, and drawing comparisons between both actors' performances can make for some interesting postmovie discussion. That aside, The Hunt for Red October stands alone as a uniquely exciting adventure with a fantastic costar: Sean Connery as a Russian nuclear submarine captain attempting to defect to the West on his ship. Ryan must figure out his true motives for approaching the U.S. McTiernan (Predator, Die Hard) made an exceptionally handsome movie here with action sequences that really do take one's breath away. --Tom Keogh

Russian Cookbook


Recipes are very easy, you can get all you need at any grocery store. This book is for everyone who likes to eat.

The Russian Revolution


At the beginning of the twentieth century, Russia was one of the great powers of Europe. But it was a great power that was universally regarded as backward by comparison with Britain, Germany, and France. As Russia moved from under the weight of World War I, Western influences began to settle upon this vast empire, leading the way to the turbulent years of the Russian Revolution.

Now in a new edition, this provocative and eminently readable work looks at the many upheavals of this long and often devastating period as successive stages in a single process--the Russian Revolution. Focusing on the Russian Revolution in its widest sense, Fitzpatrick covers not only the events of 1917 and what preceded them, but the nature of the social transformation brought about by the Bolsheviks after they took power. Making use of a huge amount of previously secret information in Soviet archives and unpublished memoirs, this detailed chronology recounts each monumental event from the February and October Revolutions of 1917 and the Civil War of 1918-1920, through the New Economic Policy of 1921 and the 1929 First Five-Year Plan, to Stalin's "revolution from above" at the end of the 1920s and the Great Purge of the late 1930s.

Taras Bulba (Modern Library)


Set sometime between the mid-sixteenth and early-seventeenth century, Gogol’s epic tale recounts both a bloody Cossack revolt against the Poles (led by the bold Taras Bulba of Ukrainian folk mythology) and the trials of Taras Bulba’s two sons.

As Robert Kaplan writes in his Introduction, “[Taras Bulba] has a Kiplingesque gusto . . . that makes it a pleasure to read, but central to its theme is an unredemptive, darkly evil violence that is far beyond anything that Kipling ever touched on. We need more works like Taras Bulba to better understand the emotional wellsprings of the threat we face today in places like the Middle East and Central Asia.” And the critic John Cournos has noted, “A clue to all Russian realism may be found in a Russian critic’s observation about Gogol: ‘Seldom has nature created a man so romantic in bent, yet so masterly in portraying all that is unromantic in life.’ But this statement does not cover the whole ground, for it is easy to see in almost all of Gogol’s work his ‘free Cossack soul’ trying to break through the shell of sordid today like some ancient demon, essentially Dionysian. So that his works, true though they are to our life, are at once a reproach, a protest, and a challenge, ever calling for joy, ancient joy, that is no more with us. And they have all the joy and sadness of the Ukrainian songs he loved so much.”

Sovietski Collection: Treasures from a Bygone Era

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