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Russia & The Former Soviet Union

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  1. 22.4 hrs • 9/13/2016 • Unabridged

    From the bestselling author of Stalin and The Last Tsar comes The Rasputin File, a remarkable biography of the mystical monk and bizarre philanderer whose role in the demise of the Romanovs and the start of the revolution can only now be fully known.For almost a century, historians could only speculate about the role Grigory Rasputin played in the downfall of tsarist Russia. But in 1995 a lost file from the State Archives turned up, a file that contained the complete interrogations of Rasputin’s inner circle. With this extensive and explicit amplification of the historical record, Edvard Radzinsky has written a definitive biography, reconstructing in full the fascinating life of an improbable holy man who changed the course of Russian history.Translated from the Russian by Judson Rosengrant.

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    The Rasputin File

    Translated by Judson Rosengrant
    22.4 hrs • 9/13/16 • Unabridged
  2. 23.0 hrs • 5/24/2016 • Unabridged

    The newest book from the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature, an oral history of Russia from the collapse of the Soviet Union to the rise of Putin, in English for the first time. Bringing together dozens of voices in her distinctive style of oral history, Secondhand Time is a monument to the collapse of the USSR, charting the decline of Soviet culture and speculating on what will rise from the ashes of Communism. As in all her books, Alexievich gives voice to women and men whose stories are lost in the official narratives of nation-states, creating a powerful alternative history from the personal and private stories of individuals.

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    Secondhand Time

    Translated by Bela Shayevich
    23.0 hrs • 5/24/16 • Unabridged
  3. 8.8 hrs • 5/10/2016 • Unabridged

    A scholarly, absorbing narrative of Stalin’s last days and the turbulent wake of his dictatorship. Joshua Rubenstein’s riveting account takes us back to the second half of 1952, when no one could foresee an end to Joseph Stalin’s murderous regime. He was poised to challenge the newly elected US president Dwight Eisenhower with armed force and was also broadening a vicious campaign against Soviet Jews. Stalin’s sudden collapse and death in March 1953 was as dramatic and mysterious as his life. It is no overstatement to say that his passing marked a major turning point in the twentieth century. The Last Days of Stalin is an engaging, briskly told account of the dictator’s final active months, the vigil at his deathbed, and the unfolding of Soviet and international events in the months after his death. Rubenstein throws fresh light on the devious plotting of Beria, Malenkov, Khrushchev, and other “comrades-in-arms” who well understood the significance of the dictator’s impending death; the witness-documented events of his death as compared to official published versions; Stalin’s rumored plans to forcibly exile Soviet Jews; the responses of Eisenhower and Secretary of State Dulles to the Kremlin’s conciliatory gestures after Stalin’s death; and the momentous repercussions when Stalin’s regime of terror was cut short.

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    The Last Days of Stalin by John Rubenstein

    The Last Days of Stalin

    8.8 hrs • 5/10/16 • Unabridged
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  4. 28.7 hrs • 5/3/2016 • Unabridged

    The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world’s surface for three centuries. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world’s greatest empire? And how did they lose it all? This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Simon Sebag Montefiore’s gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, with a global cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries, and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy and Pushkin, to Bismarck, Lincoln, Queen Victoria, and Lenin. To rule Russia was both an imperial-sacred mission and poisoned chalice: six of the last twelve tsars were murdered. Peter the Great tortured his own son to death while making Russia an empire, and dominated his court with a dining club notable for compulsory drunkenness, naked dwarfs, and fancy dress. Catherine the Great overthrew her own husband (who was murdered soon afterward), enjoyed affairs with a series of young male favorites, conquered Ukraine and fascinated Europe. Paul I was strangled by courtiers backed by his own son, Alexander I, who in turn faced Napoleon’s invasion and the burning of Moscow, then went on to take Paris. Alexander II liberated the serfs, survived five assassination attempts and wrote perhaps the most explicit love letters ever composed by a ruler. The Romanovs climaxes with a fresh, unforgettable portrayal of Nicholas II and Alexandra, the rise and murder of Rasputin, war and revolution—and the harrowing massacre of the entire family. Dazzlingly entertaining and beautifully written from start to finish, The Romanovs brings these monarchs—male and female, great and flawed, their families and courts—blazingly to life. Drawing on new archival research, Montefiore delivers an enthralling epic of triumph and tragedy, love and murder, encompassing the seminal years 1812, 1914, and 1917, that is both a universal study of power and a portrait of empire that helps define Russia today.

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    The Romanovs

    Read by Simon Russell Beale
    28.7 hrs • 5/3/16 • Unabridged
  5. 29.1 hrs • 12/1/2015 • Unabridged

    In the tradition of John Reed’s classic Ten Days That Shook the World, this bestselling account of the collapse of the Soviet Union combines the global vision of the best historical scholarship with the immediacy of eyewitness journalism.

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    Lenin’s Tomb

    29.1 hrs • 12/1/15 • Unabridged
  6. 14.1 hrs • 11/10/2015 • Unabridged

    A remarkable journey down the Amur River, revealing the history and culture of a region which is once again becoming one of the world’s most contested regions Black Dragon River is a personal journey down one of Asia’s great rivers. The world’s ninth largest river, the Amur serves as a large part of the border between Russia and China. As a crossroads for the great empires of Asia, this area offers journalist Dominic Ziegler a lens with which to examine the societies at Europe’s only borderland with east Asia. He follows a journey from the river’s top to bottom, and weaves the history, ecology and peoples to show a region obsessed with the past—and to show how this region holds a key to the complex and critical relationship between Russia and China today. The Amur crosses terrain legendarily difficult to cross. Near the river’s source, Ziegler travels on horseback from the Mongolian steppe into the taiga, and later he is forced by the river’s impassability to take the Trans-Siberian Railway through the four-hundred-mile valley of water meadows inland. As he voyages deeper into the Amur wilderness, Ziegler also journeys into the history of the peoples and cultures the river’s path has transformed. The known history of the river begins with Genghis Khan and the rise of the Mongolian empire a millennium ago, and the story of the region has been one of aggression and conquest ever since. The modern history of the river is the story of Russia’s push across the Eurasian landmass to China. For China, the Amur is a symbol of national humiliation and Western imperial land seizure; to Russia it is a symbol of national regeneration, its New World dreams and eastern prospects. The quest to take the Amur was to be Russia’s route to greatness, replacing an oppressive European identity with a vibrant one that faced the Pacific. Russia launched a grab in 1854 and took from China a chunk of territory equal in size nearly to France and Germany combined. Later, the region was the site for atrocities meted out on the Russian far east in the twentieth century during the Russian civil war and under Stalin. The long shared history on the Amur has conditioned the way China and Russia behave toward each other—and toward the outside world. To understand Putin’s imperial dreams, we must comprehend Russia’s relationship to its far east and how it still shapes the Russian mind. Not only is the Amur a key to Putinism, its history is also embedded in an ongoing clash of empires with the West.

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    Black Dragon River

    14.1 hrs • 11/10/15 • Unabridged
  7. 22.9 hrs • 9/29/2015 • Unabridged

    From the former Moscow bureau chief of the New York Times comes The New Tsar, an epic and incisive portrait of Vladimir Putin, one of the most important and destabilizing world leaders in recent history. In a gripping narrative of Putin’s rise to power as Russia’s president, Steven Lee Myers recounts Putin’s origins—from his childhood of abject poverty in Leningrad, to his ascension through the ranks of the KGB, and his eventual consolidation of rule. Along the way, world events familiar to readers, such as September 11th and Russia’s war in Georgia in 2008, as well as the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, are presented from never-before-seen perspectives. This book is a grand, staggering achievement and a breathtaking look at one man’s rule. On one hand, Putin’s many reforms—from tax cuts to an expansion of property rights—have helped reshape the potential of millions of Russians whose only experience of democracy had been crime, poverty, and instability after the fall of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, Putin has ushered in a new authoritarianism, unyielding in his brutal repression of revolts and squashing of dissent. Still, he retains widespread support from the Russian public. The New Tsar is a narrative tour de force, deeply researched, and utterly necessary for anyone fascinated by the formidable and ambitious Vladimir Putin, but also for those interested in the world and what a newly assertive Russia might mean for the future.

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    The New Tsar

    22.9 hrs • 9/29/15 • Unabridged
  8. 14.4 hrs • 9/15/2015 • Unabridged

    In this new edition of his classic 1970 memoir about the notorious U-2 incident, pilot Francis Gary Powers reveals the full story of what actually happened in the most sensational espionage case in Cold War history. After surviving the shoot-down of his reconnaissance plane and his capture on May 1, 1960, Powers endured sixty-one days of rigorous interrogation by the KGB, a public trial, a conviction for espionage, and the start of a ten-year sentence. After nearly two years, the US government obtained his release from prison in a dramatic exchange for convicted Soviet spy Rudolph Abel. The narrative is a tremendously exciting suspense story about a man who was labeled a traitor by many of his countrymen but who emerged a Cold War hero.

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    Operation Overflight

    By Frances Gary Powers, with Curt Gentry
    14.4 hrs • 9/15/15 • Unabridged
  9. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    6.8 hrs • 6/2/2015 • Unabridged

    The bestselling author of Bringing Down the House and The Accidental Billionaires (the basis for the Academy Award–winning film The Social Network) delivers an epic drama of wealth, rivalry, and betrayal among mega-wealthy Russian oligarchs—and its international repercussions. Once Upon a Time in Russia is the untold true story of the larger-than-life billionaire oligarchs who surfed the waves of privatization to reap riches after the fall of the Soviet regime: “Godfather of the Kremlin” Boris Berezovsky, a former mathematician whose first entrepreneurial venture was running an automobile reselling business, and Roman Abramovich, his dashing young protégé who built a multibillion-dollar empire of oil and aluminum. Locked in a complex, uniquely Russian partnership, Berezovsky and Abramovich battled their way through the “Wild East” of Russia with Berezovsky acting as the younger man’s krysha—literally, his roof, his protector. Written with the heart-stopping pacing of a thriller—but even more compelling because it is true—this story of amassing obscene wealth and power depicts a rarefied world seldom seen up close. Under Berezovsky’s krysha, Abramovich built one of Russia’s largest oil companies from the ground up and in exchange made cash deliveries—including 491 million dollars in just one year. But their relationship frayed when Berezovsky attacked President Vladimir Putin in the media—and was forced to flee to the UK. Abramovich continued to prosper. Dead bodies trailed Berezovsky’s footsteps, and threats followed him to London, where an associate of his died painfully and famously of Polonium poisoning. Then Berezovsky himself was later found dead, declared a suicide. Exclusively sourced, capturing a momentous period in recent world history, Once Upon a Time in Russia is at once personal and political, offering an unprecedented look into the wealth, corruption, and power behind what Graydon Carter called “the story of our age.”

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    Once Upon a Time in Russia

    6.8 hrs • 6/2/15 • Unabridged
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  10. 19.7 hrs • 6/2/2015 • Unabridged

    The award-winning author of Villa Air-Bel returns with a painstakingly researched, revelatory biography of Svetlana Stalin, a woman fated to live her life in the shadow of one of history’s most monstrous dictators—her father, Josef Stalin. Born in the early years of the Soviet Union, Svetlana Stalin spent her youth inside the walls of the Kremlin. Communist Party privilege protected her from the mass starvation and purges that haunted Russia, but she did not escape tragedy—the loss of everyone she loved, including her mother, two brothers, aunts and uncles, and a lover twice her age, deliberately exiled to Siberia by her father. As she gradually learned about the extent of her father’s brutality after his death, Svetlana could no longer keep quiet and in 1967 shocked the world by defecting to the United States—leaving her two children behind. But although she was never a part of her father’s regime, she could not escape his legacy. Her life in America was fractured; she moved frequently, married disastrously, shunned other Russian exiles, and ultimately died in poverty in Spring Green, Wisconsin. With access to KGB, CIA, and Soviet government archives, as well as the close cooperation of Svetlana’s daughter, Rosemary Sullivan pieces together Svetlana’s incredible life in a masterful account of unprecedented intimacy. Epic in scope, it’s a revolutionary biography of a woman doomed to be a political prisoner of her father’s name. Sullivan explores a complicated character in her broader context without ever losing sight of her powerfully human story, in the process opening a closed, brutal world that continues to fascinate us.

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    Stalin’s Daughter

    19.7 hrs • 6/2/15 • Unabridged
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  11. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    13.5 hrs • 1/21/2015 • Unabridged

    Robert Forczyk’s definitive English-language work on the savage battle for the Crimea, Where the Iron Crosses Grow sheds new light on this vital aspect of the Eastern Front. The Crimea was one of the crucibles of the war on the Eastern Front, where first a Soviet and then a German army were surrounded, fought desperate battles, and were eventually destroyed. The fighting in the region was unusual for the Eastern Front in many ways in that naval supply, amphibious landings, and naval evacuation played major roles, while both sides were also conducting ethnic cleansing as part of their strategy—the Germans eliminating the Jews and the Soviets purging the region of Tartars. From 1941, when the Soviets first created the Sevastopol fortified region, the Crimea was a focal point of the war in the East. German forces under the noted commander Manstein conquered the area in 1941–42, which was followed by two years of brutal colonization and occupation before the Soviet counteroffensive in 1944 destroyed the German 17th Army.

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    Where the Iron Crosses Grow

    13.5 hrs • 1/21/15 • Unabridged
    0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
  12. 38.8 hrs • 12/3/2014 • Unabridged

    A magnificent new biography that revolutionizes our understanding of Stalin and his world. It has the quality of myth: A poor cobbler’s son, a seminarian from an oppressed outer province of the Russian Empire, reinvents himself as a revolutionary and finds a leadership role within a small group of marginal zealots. When the old world is unexpectedly brought down in a total war, the band seizes control of the country, and the new regime it founds as the vanguard of a new world order is ruthlessly dominated from within by the former seminarian until he stands as the absolute ruler of a vast and terrible state apparatus, with dominion over Eurasia. We think we know the story well. Remarkably, Stephen Kotkin’s epic new biography shows us how much we still have to learn.  The product of a decade of scrupulous and intrepid research, Stalin contains a host of astonishing revelations. Kotkin gives an intimate first-ever view of the Bolshevik regime’s inner geography, bringing to the fore materials from Soviet military intelligence and the secret police. He details Stalin’s invention of a fabricated trial and mass executions as early as 1918, the technique he would later impose across the whole country. The book places Stalin’s momentous decision for collectivization more deeply than ever in the tragic history of imperial Russia. Above all, Kotkin offers a convincing portrait and explanation of Stalin’s monstrous power and of Russian power in the world. Stalin restores a sense of surprise to the way we think about the Soviet Union, revolution, dictatorship, the twentieth century, and indeed the art of history itself.

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    Stalin, Vol. 1

    38.8 hrs • 12/3/14 • Unabridged
  13. 7.0 hrs • 11/13/2014 • Unabridged

    Steinbeck and Capa’s account of their journey through Cold War Russia is a classic piece of reportage and travel writing Just after the Iron Curtain fell on Eastern Europe, Pulitzer Prize–winning author John Steinbeck and acclaimed war photographer Robert Capa ventured into the Soviet Union to report for the New York Herald Tribune. This rare opportunity took the famous travelers not only to Moscow and Stalingrad—now Volgograd – but through the countryside of the Ukraine and the Caucasus. Hailed by the New York Times as “superb” when it first appeared in 1948, A Russian Journal is the distillation of their journey and remains a remarkable memoir and unique historical document. What they saw and movingly recorded in words and on film was what Steinbeck called “the great other side there … the private life of the Russian people.” Unlike other Western reporting about Russia at the time, A Russian Journal is free of ideological obsessions. Rather, Steinbeck and Capa recorded the grim realities of factory workers, government clerks, and peasants, as they emerged from the rubble of World War II—represented here in Steinbeck’s masterful prose. Through it all, we are given intimate glimpses of two artists at the height of their powers, answering their need to document human struggle. This edition features an introduction by Steinbeck scholar Susan Shillinglaw.

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    A Russian Journal

    7.0 hrs • 11/13/14 • Unabridged
  14. 1 reviews 0 5 3 3 out of 5 stars 3/5 (1)
    9.5 hrs • 11/4/2014 • Unabridged

    A compelling story of two intertwined journeys: a Jewish refugee family fleeing persecution and a young man seeking to reclaim a shattered past In the twilight of the Cold War, nine-year-old Lev Golinkin and his family cross the Soviet border with only ten suitcases, $600, and the vague promise of help awaiting in Vienna. Years later, Lev, now an American adult, sets out to retrace his family’s long trek, locate the strangers who fought for his freedom, and in the process, gain a future by understanding his past. Lev Golinkin’s memoir is the vivid, darkly comic, and poignant story of a young boy in the confusing and often chilling final decade of the Soviet Union. It’s also the story of Lev Golinkin, the American man who finally confronts his buried past by returning to Austria and Eastern Europe to track down the strangers who made his escape possible … and thank them. Written with biting, acerbic wit and emotional honesty in the vein of Gary Shteyngart, Jonathan Safran Foer, and David Bezmozgis, Golinkin’s search for personal identity set against the relentless currents of history is more than a memoir: it’s a portrait of a lost era. This is a thrilling tale of escape and survival, a deeply personal look at the life of a Jewish child caught in the last gasp of the Soviet Union, and a provocative investigation into the power of hatred and the search for belonging. Lev Golinkin achieves an amazing feat—and it marks the debut of a fiercely intelligent, defiant, and unforgettable new voice.

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    A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka by Lev Golinkin

    A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka

    9.5 hrs • 11/4/14 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 3 3 out of 5 stars 3/5 (1)
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  15. 14.4 hrs • 9/30/2014 • Unabridged

    The raging question in the world today is, “who is the real Vladimir Putin and what are his intentions?” Karen Dawisha’s brilliant Putin’s Kleptocracy provides an answer, describing how Putin got to power, the cabal he brought with him, the billions they have looted, and his plan to restore the Greater Russia. Russian scholar Dawisha describes and exposes the origins of Putin’s kleptocratic regime. She presents extensive new evidence about the Putin circle’s use of public positions for personal gain even before Putin became president in 2000. She documents the establishment of Bank Rossiya, now sanctioned by the United States; the rise of the Ozero cooperative, founded by Putin and others who are now subject to visa bans and asset freezes; the links between Putin, Petromed, and “Putin’s Palace” near Sochi; and the role of security officials from Putin’s KGB days in Leningrad and Dresden, many of whom have maintained their contacts with Russian organized crime. Putin’s Kleptocracy is the result of years of research into the KGB and the various thriving Russian crime syndicates. Dawisha’s sources include Stasi archives, Russian insiders, investigative journalists in the United States, Britain, Germany, Finland, France, and Italy, and Western officials who served in Moscow. Russian journalists wrote part of this story when the Russian media was still free. “Many of them died for this story, and their work has largely been scrubbed from the Internet, and even from Russian libraries,” Dawisha says. “But some of that work remains.”

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    Putin's Kleptocracy

    14.4 hrs • 9/30/14 • Unabridged
  16. 10.8 hrs • 9/2/2014 • Unabridged

    Drama on the high seas as the world holds its breath It was the most spectacular display of brinkmanship in the Cold War era. In October 1962, President Kennedy risked inciting a nuclear war to prevent the Soviet Union from establishing missile bases in Cuba. The risk, however, was far greater than Kennedy realized. October Fury uncovers startling new information about the Cuban missile crisis and the potentially calamitous confrontation between US Navy destroyers and Soviet submarines in the Atlantic. Peter Huchthausen, who served as a junior ensign aboard one of the destroyers, reveals that a single shot fired by any US warship could have led to an immediate nuclear response from the Soviet submarines. This riveting account re-creates those desperate days of confrontation from both the American and Russian points of view and discloses detailed information about Soviet operational plans and the secret orders given to submarine commanders. It provides an engrossing, behind-the-scenes look at the technical and tactical functions of two great navies along with stunning portraits of the officers and sailors on both sides who were determined to do their duty even in the most extreme circumstances. As absorbing and detailed as a Tom Clancy novel, this real-life suspense thriller is destined to become a classic of naval literature.

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    October Fury by Peter A. Huchthausen

    October Fury

    10.8 hrs • 9/2/14 • Unabridged
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