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Black Earth City: When Russia Ran Wild (And So Did We) Paperback – Bargain Price, March 1, 2003


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$349.00 $24.43

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (March 1, 2003)
  • ISBN-10: 0312420617
  • ASIN: B000H2N7V0
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,438,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Charlotte Hobson arrived in the Russian city of Voronezh just in time to witness the Soviet Union careening toward its last day of existence. There she found a city exploding from 70 years of pent-up desire. In Hostel No. 4, her fellow students plunged into a sexual revolution ribald even by American standards. With sudden shortages and hyperinflation, Hobson and her mates lived on cheap vodka, the imperative to escape the tedium of the Soviet era, and the fever of a transition from an oppressive government to one full of risks, decadence, and the unknown. In this tender and poignant memoir, Hobson immerses herself in the beautiful, impenetrable, and dark lexicon of the Russians--the old superstitions, the brutal military service, the vibrant and tempestuous loves nurtured by minus-20-degree temperatures--and evokes a bittersweet passage full of excitement, mayhem, and despair. --Lesley Reed --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

When Hobson, a British-born descendant of White Russians, first planned the trip that forms the basis of this memoir, she thought she was traveling to the Soviet Union. But a month before her departure in 1991, a failed right-wing putsch in Moscow consigned that destination to the pages of history and ushered in the dawn of a "New Russia." Some 500 kilometers south of Moscow, in the provincial university town of Voronezh that is to be Hobson's home for the next year, a political and economic lethargy muffles the cataclysmic events of the capital. For most of the residents of Hostel No. 4, where the author takes up quarters, there is little novelty in the "new" Russia. Heavy drinking, escapist plots and extravagant romances are marks of the national psyche, as they have since well before the revolution (first and second). Yet for Hobson, even the time-honored tradition of drinking vodka on a commuter train is an adventure, and she treasures the details of an exotically mundane life. And while her title may nod to at least a modest political account, her well-groomed diary is unapologetically concerned more with Hobson and company's new independence than with Russia's. While many of the vignettes are amusing and the characters often charming, the narrative already feels dated after all, even sleepy Voronezh has abandoned the Soviet trappings that Hobson describes, if not the wild nights she remembers so fondly.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I spent an academic year in Russia, just as Charlotte did, only two years later. I found this book really riveting, and could barely put it down until I had quickly finished it. My congratulations to the author for capturing so well the atmosphere of magical Russia and its warm countrymen, along with a glimpse into the country's painful history and current problems. I am so pleased I had the opportunity to read this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M Quigg VINE VOICE on July 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
Although there is little history or sociology in this book, I enjoyed it for the viewpoint of Soviet society in a changing era. Hobson was a student of the Russian language studying at a local university. She describes life in the student hostel she lived in, along with all the interactions with other foreigners and Russian students. She said very little about the university. This book details all the interactions with other Russian students, and life in the USSR during this transition. After the New Year came, she experienced life in the Russian Federation. Society's mores certainly changed during this time.

This book shows a personal experience of a society changing from Communist to Capitalist. It is interesting in how Soviet mores changed drastically during this time. The book had a good flow to it and reads easily.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "petersv" on February 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This account of the author's year as a foreign student in Voronezh covers much of the same ground seen in othe memoirs of the new Russia (see, e.g., Casino Moscow). Unlike most other such books, though, the author is in the provinces, away from glitter and mob life in Moscow. Worth a read, although I wish it had been published sooner after the events described.
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