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City of Thieves: A Novel Paperback – March 31, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
I have over a dozen books on the Siege of Leningrad (for a project I'm working on), and I have to say that the Author portrays the siege with accuracy, if not with full depth - in large part because the story is told from the viewpoint of Lev, a 17 year old boy. This doesn't give the reader an omniscient overview of "the big picture", but it certainly provides a very specific perspective on life in and around the city, and one well worth reading.
It's an "impression" of life during the city, and I have to say that with one exception - Lev would have been much hungrier and weaker in real life - a fairly accurate one. Readers of "The 900 Days" will recognize the inspiration for a specific scene, (Hint: Beware of well fed men in a famine) but how the characters react to what happens makes the action their own. And what characters!
The two main characters that carry the book deserve to be remembered as a classic pairing. Their interactions, observations and the journey they take on their absurd quest are one that I will remember for a very long time. Lev, the narrator, will remind most adult men of their own awkward youth. Wry, dry, frustrated and a little plodding, he is enormously sympathetic, while seemingly always in the process of doing a "Straight Man's Slow Burn" in a comedy routine. Kolya, an accidental Red Army deserter, is overly confident, irresistably charming and scatologically minded.Read more ›
1. Many historical fiction novels are written from the perspective of the thinking of the time. Although it is interesting to observe how people think people thought in the past, it can be a little too un-modern and sometimes boring, like reading "Moby Dick" or some other great, but somewhat over the top book. Here, we are set back in time by the grandson who is just like us, telling the story his grandfather tells him, but with language and interpretations that are how we think about things today. Instead of finding this tool to be unrealistic and too Hollywood modern, I found just the opposite. I felt like I really was back in time and I related to the characters like they were my best friends and buddies. I loved this approach to history telling.
2. The primary relationship in the book is between a shy, 17 year old Jewish boy who is intelligent, clever, educated and a great story teller. There is a running dialogue in his head describing his sometimes ridiculous and unimportant thoughts and observations as life threatening things are occurring. His older buddy is a young "man of the world" a college boy who is experienced with women, a writer and philosopher, a handsome and sometimes arrogant guy. He puts his arm around his younger shy friend's shoulder and starts to teach him about wine women and song. It is a touching and fun relationship that works as well as any friendship relationship I've ever read. The observations of the younger as to the older's sometimes graphic and raunchy statements and experiences are absolutely brilliant and spot on.Read more ›
I liked City of Thieves for a number of reasons. First, Benioff does an excellent job setting the story up. It begins as a narrative of his own life as a writer and then evolves into getting his grandfather Lev to tell him the story of his experience during the war. All the author knows is that "my grandfather, the knife fighter, killed two Germans before he was eighteen". The story unfolds as a narrative told to his grandson.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I judge literary work by its persistence. Months later, the vivid imagery of 'City of Thieves' still comes back to me daily. Good writing entertains, great writing persists.Published 2 days ago by francois larrivee
NO REVIEW, JUST READ IT. FIND THE DEPTH OF HUMAN DEPRAVITY AND MERCY. GOODNESS AND EVIL. REMINDS ME OF KARON AND THE GOOD GERMANPublished 7 days ago by cave dog
I love the way Kolya developed. I love Lev and his sweet innocence. This book has definitely become one of my top 10 favorite books.Published 10 days ago by Elizabeth Suter
Lev becomes a man with Kolya as his mentor and unlikely friend during the brutal WW2 as it plays out in Russia.Published 15 days ago by Joan Scicchitano
I have been to Leningrad/Saint Pete 6 times, so when I find a book centered on the Siege it sparks my interest. Can't quite remember how I came upon this book but I am glad I did. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
Like life it contains both comedy and tragedy. Also, sometimes the comical is tragic and the tragedy is comical. The two main characters, Lev and Kolya are wonderfully drawn.Published 16 days ago by Stephen M. Neihaus
The story tells the evils of war, innocent citizens ravaged, cities broken completely and a young man who grows up very quickly.Published 16 days ago by Mona Chan
Maybe the best story of a city under siege I have read. The descriptions of the looks of a room and of the clothes persons wore were clear and detailed and yet flowed into the... Read morePublished 16 days ago by James A. Mays