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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
The first time my friend mentioned this book, he mentioned that one of the show runners for HBO's Game of Thrones had written this. That was what first got my attention. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Regan Brooks
First book I've been able to get through in years. It was a recommendation from a friend and I would recommend it to anyone. Fantastic readPublished 1 day ago by C. Werther
Good read if you like journey/adventurous books. Good look at the other side of the war as well. I'd suggest it to anyone!Published 2 days ago by Eric
Clever, tragic, historical, well written....I really enjoyed this book.Published 14 days ago by Christina
I loved this book. I knew very little about the horrific conditions during the siege of Leningrad. Written so well, balancing humor and horror in a way I have never seen it in... Read morePublished 15 days ago by Gilda
The story takes place during the Siege of Leningrad where two hapless young men are sent on a dangerous errand to find a dozen eggs for the wedding cake of an officer's daughter. Read morePublished 16 days ago by S. Jaeger