Tangled Loyalties: The Life and Times of Ilya Ehrenburg

Overview

Journalist, novelist, poet --Ilya Ehrenburg (1891-1967) was one of the most important Russian cultural figures of the 20th century. A political exile from Czarist Russia, he spent years in Paris as a bohemian poet and later became Izvestia correspondent in Western Europe. He was one of the few distinguished Soviet writers to survive Stalin. Ehrenburg's 1954 novel, The Thaw lent its name to the critical period following Stalin's death. His memoirs People, Years, Life outraged the Kremlin in the '60s for describing...
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Overview

Journalist, novelist, poet --Ilya Ehrenburg (1891-1967) was one of the most important Russian cultural figures of the 20th century. A political exile from Czarist Russia, he spent years in Paris as a bohemian poet and later became Izvestia correspondent in Western Europe. He was one of the few distinguished Soviet writers to survive Stalin. Ehrenburg's 1954 novel, The Thaw lent its name to the critical period following Stalin's death. His memoirs People, Years, Life outraged the Kremlin in the '60s for describing a conspiracy of silence that had prevailed under the dictator. In this groundbreaking biography, Joshua Rubenstein tells the story of one of Russia's most controversial and enigmatic figures. Ehrenburg was a young Bolshevik who turned anti-Communist, then two decades later became a spokesman for Stalin. He was an assimilated Jew who fought anti-Semitism, and a Russian patriot who was both mistrusted by orthodox Communists and denounced by Hitler as his main enemy. As a Jew, he was said to have betrayed his people; as a writer, his talent; as a man, his conscience. Yet Ehrenburg retained a measure of personal integrity. He helped other writers, including Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, and Boris Pasternak. He battled censorship and championed European art in Moscow. His circle of friends included Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Diego Rivera, Ernest Hemingway, Isaac Babel, and Andre Malraux. In vivid detail, Tangled Loyalties draws extensively on new material from Russian archives, from Ehrenburg's private correspondence, and from interviews with scores of family members and friends. The book uncovers the man behind the controversies, whose personal life was as unconventional as the career he fashioned.
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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
A convincing, judicious and enjoyable biography.
NY Times Book Review
A convincing, judicious and enjoyable biography.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Rubenstein's superb biography of Soviet journalist, poet and novelist Ilya Ehrenburg (1891-1967) probes the moral complexity of a major cultural figure. Ehrenburg joined the Bolshevik underground at age 15. Imprisoned two years later, he fled Czarist Russia for Paris, where he met Lenin, whom he ridiculed in a satirical journal. The disillusioned ex-radical denounced the Bolshevik revolution in his poetry and became a cafe crony of Picasso, Modigliani and Chagall. But as an Izvestia correspondent in Paris during the 1930s, Ehrenburg became a key component of Stalin's propaganda machine. Yet Rubenstein, an Amnesty International director and a fellow at Harvard's Russian Research Center, maintains that Ehrenburg's courageous, even outspoken stances against Soviet repression far outweigh the compromises and silences of a career played out under dictatorship. He argues that Ehrenburg's subversive novel, The Thaw (1954), helped launch de-Stalinization, and he pressed for the rehabilitation of Isaac Babel, Osip Mandelstam and Marina Tsvetaeva. An assimilated Jew, Ehrenburg, in a personal letter of protest to Stalin, fearlessly opposed the dictator's planned round-up and deportation of the Soviet Union's Jewish citizens to Siberia and Birobidzhan in 1953.
Booknews
Drawing upon new material from Russian archives, interviews, and letters, Amnesty International USA's Rubenstein (Russian studies, Harvard U.) provides a chronology (1891-1967) and insight into the controversial Soviet Jewish writer who some say sold out to Stalin, yet was active in the Soviet human rights movement and denounced by Khrushchev. Originally published by Basic Books. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
NY Times Book Review
A convincing, judicious and enjoyable biography.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780817309633
  • Publisher: University of Alabama Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1999
  • Series: Judaic Studies Series Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.50 (d)

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