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Hargittai, a distinguished Hungarian chemist, relates 12 compact biographies of scientific giants such as Igor Tamm, Andrei Sakharov, Nikolai Semenov, and Yuli Khariton, some of whom he knew personally.
Karlip uses the lives of three seminal figures -- Yisroel Efroikin, Zelig Kalmanovitch, and Elias Tcherikower -- to tell the story of Jewish nationalism's early idealism, inspired in part by the 1905 Russian Revolution, through its decay in the wake of World War I and the Holocaust.
This memoir is like a photo album of images from Farkas’ life arrayed alongside all the contextual details of the four decades of Hungarian history the author covers.
Savodnik recounts almost month by month Oswald’s life in Minsk: his work, friends, conversations, and romances, thanks in part to intensive interviews with those who knew him or “handled” him.
Among the cascade of recent books about Vladimir Putin, this one stands out because it is not quite a biography or an explanation of the man but rather a history of how he and those who surround him built the system that has guided Russia for the last 13 years -- and now misguides it.
A definitive biography of a writer as transcendent as Franz Kafka might be unattainable, but in his massive trilogy, Stach comes as close as one can.
Although Central Asia has faded from public view as the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan staggers to an end, the region remains important.
Ledeneva explores the informal, sometimes illegal way things get done in Russia -- through connections, bribes, and favors.
This is a brilliant study of Jozef Tiso, a Catholic priest who championed Slovak independence and allied himself with Adolf Hitler during World War II.
The bizarre tale of Father Dmitri Dudko staggers the imagination.
Rarely does an outsider get to experience Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan as intimately as Shishkin, a Russian-born journalist who writes for Western media and who has made his way into virtually every turbulent moment in the recent history of these countries.
In considering the bloody and stupifyingly complicated last chapter of the Yugoslav wars, most outsiders view the Kosovo Liberation Army with only slightly less distaste than they do the former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. Pettifer sees matters differently.
Smoking may seem a curious route into Bulgarian history, but given the centrality of tobacco to the country’s commerce, examining it allows Neuburger to add depth to many facets of Bulgarian social and political life as the country moved from the tutelage of the Ottoman Empire to autonomy after 1877, through the crosscurrents of World War I and its revolutionary aftermath, and to the genocide of World War II and then the confused heavy hand of communist overlordship.
To hold their own in the nuclear arms race, both the United States and the Soviet Union built sealed-off cities to harvest plutonium. Brown focuses on the history of the two pioneering examples: the Richland community in eastern Washington State and Ozersk, in the southern Urals.
Tsygankov believes that the Russian sense of honor is the key to understanding the long history of the country’s relations with the West. His exegesis applies well to the Putin era, but for the larger picture, theory’s demand for tidiness forces a certain amount of cutting and splicing of history.
Of the many biographies of Vladimir Putin that have appeared in recent years, this one is the most useful, particularly to foreign-policy makers, many of whom must work with a crude or muddled understanding of what makes the Russian leader tick.
Not many countries have produced an academic-cum-official who could or would write a book like this. Gaidar, a scholar-economist, was the architect of Russian economic reform in the Yeltsin era. He completed this genuine magnum opus in 2005, four years before his death, at age 53. In it, he traces all of economic history back to the late Stone Age and places the long path of Russian economic development in this extraordinary context.
The character of the civic values embraced by the generation born after the collapse of the Soviet Union has obvious importance in understanding the prospects of post-Soviet societies. Fournier, an anthropologist, spent the turbulent year of Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution observing and interacting with teenagers and their teachers in two Kiev high schools, one public and one private.
This is a story of heroism nonpareil, a heart-stopping account of the roughly one thousand young Polish Jews who, during the 1940s, organized violent resistance against the German ravaging of the Warsaw ghetto, a walled-off area “roughly the size of New York City’s Central Park” into which the Nazis squeezed nearly all of Warsaw’s 400,000 Jews. The Isaac of the title is Isaac Zuckerman, the young Polish-Lithuanian Zionist who willed into existence the Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB).
Spy stories always fascinate, and Lucas has real ones to share. They center on the activities of a group of ten Russian spies in the United States whose discovery in 2010 created a media sensation. Lucas also tells the more dramatic but less sensationalized tale of Herman Simm, an Estonian ex-policeman who later became the keeper of Estonia’s top military secrets.
“Former people” was the official label applied to Russia’s decimated nobility. Smith re-creates what they experienced with an intimacy that brings the whole history of these years vividly and grotesquely alive.
If any small slice of the globe matches the complex history of the largest and oldest countries, it is Georgia. Rayfield reconstructs every step of the way in often punishing detail. His treatment of the turbulent eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when the violent dance among the Ottomans, the Persians, and the Russians ended with Georgia’s incorporation into the Russian empire, is particularly masterful.
The way capital and coercion intersect constitutes the core of Easter’s explanation for why and how some postcommunist countries emerged with a “contractual” state and others with a “predatory” one. Tracing the complex interplay among politicians, bureaucrats, corporate interests, and labor in the struggle to shape the state’s capacity to finance itself is no simple task, and Easter does it deftly.
Bohle and Greskovits contend that the capitalism of eastern European states differs from the West’s mature form, although not quite as starkly as the authoritarian capitalism some associate with post-Soviet states.
By sharing the emotional fervor of her many, often deep personal relationships with eastern Europeans, formed during ten years of travel and research in the region, Shore gets at the agony and guilt felt by some and the sublimation resorted to by others.
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