Stalins Children: Three Generations of Love, War, and Survival

Stalins Children: Three Generations of Love, War, and Survival

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by Owen Matthews
     
 

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On a mid-summer day in 1937, a car pulled up to the house of the Bibikov family in Chernigov in the heart of the Ukraine. Boris, the father, kissed his two daughters and wife goodbye and disappeared inside the car. His family never saw him again. His wife would later vanish, leaving the young Lyudmila and Lenina alone to drift across the vast Russian landscape as the…  See more details below

Overview

On a mid-summer day in 1937, a car pulled up to the house of the Bibikov family in Chernigov in the heart of the Ukraine. Boris, the father, kissed his two daughters and wife goodbye and disappeared inside the car. His family never saw him again. His wife would later vanish, leaving the young Lyudmila and Lenina alone to drift across the vast Russian landscape as the Wehrmacht advanced in WWII. In the early 1960s Owen Matthews father, Mervyn, moved to Moscow to work for the British embassy after a childhood in Wales dreaming of Russia. He fell in with the KGB, and in love with Lyudmila, and before he could disentangle himself from the former he was ordered to leave the country. For the next six years, Mervyn tried desperately to get Lyudmila out of Russia, and when he finally succeeded they married. Decades on from these events, their son, now Newsweeks bureau chief in Moscow, pieces together the tangled threads of his familys past and present-the extraordinary files that record the life and death of his grandfather at the hands of Stalins secret police; his mothers and aunts perilous journey to adulthood; his parents Cold War love affair and the magnet that has drawn him back to the Russia-to present an indelible portrait of the country over the past seven decades and an unforgettable memoir about how we struggle to define ourselves in opposition to our ancestry only to find ourselves aligning with it.

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Editorial Reviews

Economist
Few books say so much about Russia then and now, and its effect on those it touches.
Sunday Telegraph
Few countries have been haunted more by a terrible past than Russia. In Stalin's Children Owen Matthews has written of the ghosts of his own family, with grandparents arrested in the Great Terror and his mother consigned to a Soviet orphanage when still an infant. His parents' love for each other, kept alight across the Iron Curtain, makes an extraordinary story. This wonderful memoir brings to life the human victims of a terrifyingly inhuman system.
New York Times Book Review
[A] resonant memoir…Call it irrationality, call it Russian maximalism, but the letters, papers and confidences Matthews inhabits in Stalin's Children rehabilitate all the generations they touch—including his own—showing how their times shaped their choices.
Seattle Times
A moving book written with a tender yet unsentimental eye, a deeply intimate account that reveals through the lives of Matthews' own family how the Soviet experience shaped, and destroyed, millions of people.
The New York Post
At a time when Russia is reasserting itself on the international stage,"Stalin's Children" should be required reading for anyone involved with economic, cultural or political relations with that country.... [A]n epic tale pitting the human spirit against the utopias and the dark realities that shaped Russian governance over three generations.... [A] narrative that moves seamlessly back and forth through history...a timeless portrait of the Russian soul.... All in all Mathews' contribution offers a poignant and insightful reading experience, leaving one with a keener sense of the unseen forces that drive present-day Russia.
author of Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar an Simon Sebag Montefiore
A heartbreaking, romantic and utterly compelling piece of reportage that superbly tells the story of four generations of the author's own family across 20th Century Russia, from Tsarist aristocracy to Stalinist elite, from the torture chambers of Stalin's Terror and the honeytraps of 1960s KGB to the coke-snorting orgies of 1990s Moscow Babylon and the battlefields of Chechnya. Here is an astonishing personal history of love, death and betrayal in Russia by a half-Russian writer who really knows the texture of the Motherland.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802777621
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
07/23/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,326,240
File size:
533 KB

Meet the Author

Owen Matthews was born in London and spent part of his childhood in America. He studied Modern History at Oxford University before beginning his career as a journalist in Bosnia. In 1995 he accepted a job at The Moscow Times, a daily English-language newspaper. He also freelanced for a number of publications including the Times, the Spectator and the Independent. In 1997, he became a correspondent at Newsweek magazine in Moscow where he covered the second Chechen war, as well as politics and society. Owen was also one of the first journalists to witness the start of the U.S. bombing in the Panjshir Valley in Afghanistan, 2001, and went on to cover the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Owen is currently Newsweeks bureau chief in Moscow, where he lives with his wife and two children.
Owen Matthews was born in London in 1971. He was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he read Modern History. He began his career as a foreign correspondent in Budapest, Sarajevo and Belgrade during the Bosnian civil war, working for a number of publications including The Times and Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, the Spectator, the Guardian, the Observer, Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, and the Independent. In 1995 he moved to Moscow and became a correspondent for Newsweek Magazine, covering conflicts in Lebanon, Afghanistan and Chechnya. In 2001 Owen moved to Istanbul and reported from Turkey, the Caucasus, Syria and Iran, as well as covering US-led invasions of Afghanistan and then Iraq. From 2006 to 2012 he was Newsweeks Moscow Bureau Chief.

Owens first book on Russian history was Stalins Children, a family memoir, which was published to great critical acclaim in 2008. The book was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Orwell Prize for political writing, and selected as one of the Books of the Year by the Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and the Spectator. It has been translated into twenty-eight languages and was shortlisted for Frances Medici Prize and French Elle Magazines Grand Prix Litteraire, as well as being selected as one of the FNAC chains twenty featured titles for the Rentree Litteraire of 2009.

Owen is currently a contributing editor for Newsweek magazine, based in Istanbul and Moscow.

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Stalin's Children: Three Generations of Love, War, and Survival 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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