One of best books I read this year I would compare it with Ken Follett Fall of Giants and Winter of the world , but Rybakov managed to show all tragedies of 20th century much deeper and colorful If you like Follett, you must read all three Rybakov s books After these books you will understand Russians better and you will start respect them.
I read a review about Children of the Arbat trilogy on New York Times.
It reads as follows Depicting Stalin has proved a problem for Russian writers The portraits tend to be distorted by hostility Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn s portrait in The First Circle or are rendered with grotesque comedy by writers like Vladimir Voinovich or Andrei Sinyavsky, who get closer to Stalin s madness but miss the man Mr Rybakov s Stalin realistic, believable when on the stage of history especially good when kibitzing with the German Foreign Minister, von Ribbentrop is most vivid in throwaway moments How a great analysis this is in a simple short paragraph Rybakov gives you a superb insight into the Stalinist Soviet Russia without demonizing Stalin He actually demonizes those who turned an arrogant man into a tyrant out of fear of sycophancy He does not refrain from calling Sholokhov a flunky, labeling Eisenstein as a sycophant supporter and Gorky an ordinary tramp He even questions the integrity of Pasternak because he couldn t stand pressure An artist should not yield pressures, should not feel obliged to praise the regime and should write in the name of the helpless against the tyrant He should be oppositionalist, he should go beyond the usual tirades of the day and say something new.
The first book was an amazing treat except for the monologues of Stalin The second book is a bit focused on Stalin than Sasha s friends I must admit I had missed some characters like Lena I was not expecting a tragic end for the concluding volume.
It be imprinted on my mind.
S There is a short description of the military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland.
Rybakov perfectly shows that Soviet losses on the front were so heavy because of the strength of the Soviet Red army crippled by Stalin s Great Purge of 1937 Those who are interested in the history of the period should see the Finnish Film The Winter War Talvisota