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Through Dark Days and White Nights: Four Decades Observing a Changing Russia (Russian History and Culture) Paperback – December 15, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0980081404 ISBN-10: 0980081408

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Product Details

  • Series: Russian History and Culture
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: SCARITH (December 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0980081408
  • ISBN-13: 978-0980081404
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,912,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 13 customer reviews
It is beautifully written.
Clio
Reading this book, I got to share a fascinating life with people who lived adventures I never dreamed of.
Courtney
It is a quick read and disappointing that it ends so soon.
Art Kalish

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Art Kalish on February 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Invite Naomi Collins to your home. Ask her to relate her experiences as the wife of a Foreign Service employee who eventually becomes the Ambassador to Russia. The night before her arrival prepare some bifstek and kvas so that she will feel at home. Be sure to listen intently to her every word as she shares the last 40 years of her life in and out of Russia. If she is either too busy to visit or you cannot make or purchase kvas, do the next best thing and pick up a copy of her book "Through Dark Days and White Nights". I assure you that her story will captivate and fascinate you as if she were sitting in your living room. Her style of writing is as natural as her speech. Her observational skills and her careful documentation of events help to paint her story with passion and realism that could only be matched by someone traveling along with Naomi. I shivered as she described the winters in Russia and cringed at the description of the putrefying matter found in the unkempt bathrooms. You need not be interested in Russian history or politics to enjoy this book. The 4-decade memoir transitions from life as a student at Moscow State University, to wife of the American Ambassador to Russia at the Spaso House. It is a quick read and disappointing that it ends so soon. I await the writing of another book by Naomi Collins.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. N. Wipert on January 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
For those of us that grew up after the specter of the Soviet Union's threat had largely passed, Naomi Collins' book provides a helpful perspective on what life was REALLY like on the "inside." With Naomi's experiences transitioning from living in the USSR in a grimly sparse cinderblock dorm room at Moscow State University, to life as the US Ambassador's spouse in post-Soviet Russia, her insights into the changes in culture and daily life in Russia are nothing short of riveting.

Naomi's memoirs are extremely well-written, and I couldn't stop turning the pages as I became invested in her and her family's experiences. Highly recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R.S. on January 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is very hard to put down - as someone growing up during the height of the cold war and becoming an adult as the Soviet empire fell, I felt uniquely connected to the events that Naomi Collins recounts. The book's ambitious, but successful, task of tracking four decades in a compelling, page-turning read is a tribute to the author. The flowing writing will keep you engrossed.

A great read for all!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Courtney on February 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
Reading this book, I got to share a fascinating life with people who lived adventures I never dreamed of. I wouldn't have considered going to Moscow State in my early 20s! I have followed international news over the past 40 years, sometimes more closely than other times as "life" allowed. And I was aware of Russia, but my images were formed by tne nightly broadcasts from Moscow....only to learn, duh, what a huge and diverse country Russia is and was.

Naomi's rich descriptions of sparse student lives, charming (who knew?) villages, life as an expat, and the bravery of the U.S. diplomats is captivating. Regardless of one's interest in Russia, this is a fascinating story told by a keen observer and skilled writer.

Her book and story is too important (now I know that) to call an "airplane" or "beach book" but it is that engrossing of a read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Clio on January 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
Naomi Collins helps the reader walk the tightrope between the private and personal life of the individual and the massive presence of the Soviet/Russian state. It is both a personal diary and a political essay that takes the reader through the recent past as perceived by a talented and sensitive observer of her world. The personal narrative creates the focus through which to take hold and grasp major events of our time. The author's willingness to share with us thoughts and emotions originally intended for personal journals and close friends and family is a gift to her wider audience. It is beautifully written. Her poetry, written during periods in Russia, is truly evocative of time and place.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bookworm on January 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book provides a perspective on Russia that one seldom sees. It's scope is sweeping and the author's style makes you feel like you're there with her. I'd strongly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Russian history and society.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By greenie227 on August 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
I bought this book as a mid-summer read to try to get my brain back in the groove again for the fall. I was happy to find that it rose above the level of the usual summer reading, but wasn't so academic that I couldn't get into it. It was interesting to get a perspective on everyday life in Russia for an American who was decidedly not in Paris. I grew up during the Cold War with an intense fascination with Russia. I've read Russian history, political and imperial, and I've read Russian literature for years. What I enjoyed about Ms. Collin's book is her outsider's take on a fascinating -- and recent -- time in Russian history.

If you want a book about what life was like for ordinary Russians, buy a book written by a Russian. But if you want an American's perspective on life in the USSR over several decades (including the fascinating fall of the empire), try this one. Ms. Collins had a unique position from which to view history, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her book. Highly recommended!
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