Leningrad: Siege and Symphony: The Story of the Great City Terrorized by Stalin, Starved by Hitler, Immortalized by Shostakovich

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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The “gripping story” of a Nazi blockade, a Russian composer, and a ragtag band of musicians who fought to keep up a besieged city’s morale (The New York Times Book Review).
 
For 872 days during World War II, the German Army encircled the city of Leningrad—modern-day St. Petersburg—in a military operation that would cripple the former capital and major Soviet industrial center. Palaces were looted and destroyed. Schools and hospitals were bombarded. Famine raged and millions died, soldiers and innocent civilians alike.
 
Against the backdrop of this catastrophe, historian Brian Moynahan tells the story of Dmitri Shostakovich, whose Seventh Symphony was first performed during the siege and became a symbol of defiance in the face of fascist brutality. Titled “Leningrad” in honor of the city and its people, the work premiered on August 9, 1942—with musicians scrounged from frontline units and military bands, because only twenty of the orchestra’s hundred members had survived.
 
With this compelling human story of art and culture surviving amid chaos and violence, Leningrad: Siege and Symphony “brings new depth and drama to a key historical moment” (Booklist, starred review), in “a narrative that is by turns painful, poignant and inspiring” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune).
 
“He reaches into the guts of the city to extract some humanity from the blood and darkness, and at its best Leningrad captures the heartbreak, agony and small salvations in both death and survival . . . Moynahan’s descriptions of the battlefield, which also draw from the diaries of the cold, lice-ridden, hungry combatants, are haunting.” —The Washington Post
 
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About the author

Brian Moynahan's books include Claws of the Bear, a history of the Red Army; Comrades, on the 1917 Revolution; and the award-winning Russian Century. The much-praised William Tyndale: If God Spare My Life is among his biographies. He reported from Russia as a foreign correspondent and latterly as European editor with the Sunday Times. He has had firsthand experience of conflict in Vietnam, Laos, the Middle East, and Africa.
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3.5
2 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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Published on
Oct 14, 2014
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Pages
496
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ISBN
9780802191908
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / World War II
History / Russia & the Former Soviet Union
Music / History & Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Harmony and Discord: Music and the Transformation of Russian Cultural Life explores the complex development of Russian musical life during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. At the heart of this cultural history lies the Russian Musical Society, as both a unique driving force behind the institutionalization of music and a representative of the growing importance of voluntary associations in public life. Sustained simultaneously by private initiative and cooperative relationships with the state, the Russian Musical Society played a key role in the creation of Russia's infrastructure for music and music education. Author Lynn M. Sargeant explores the fluid nature of Russian social identity through the broad scope of musical life, including not only the "leading lights" of the era but also rank-and-file musicians, teachers, and students. Although Russian musicians longed for a secure place within the new hierarchy of professions, their social status remained ambiguous throughout the nineteenth century. Traditional reliance on serf musicians and foreigners left lasting scars that motivated musicians' efforts to obtain legal rights and social respectability. And women's increasing visibility in the musical world provoked acrimonious debates that were, at heart, efforts by male musicians to strengthen their claims to professional status by denying the legitimacy of female participation. Sargeant demonstrates that the successful development of a Russian musical infrastructure salved persistent anxieties about Russia's place vis-à-vis its European cultural competitors. Remarkably, the institutions developed by the Russian Musical Society survived the upheavals of war and revolution to become the foundation for the Soviet musical system. A wealth of historical documentation makes Harmony and Discord required reading for musicologists, sociologists and historians interested in this period, and the abundance of amusing anecdotes and the author's lucid and lively literary style make it an enjoyable history for all readers.
What role did music play in the United States during World War II? How did composers reconcile the demands of their country and their art as America mobilized both militarily and culturally for war? Annegret Fauser explores these and many other questions in the first in-depth study of American concert music during World War II. While Dinah Shore, Duke Ellington, and the Andrew Sisters entertained civilians at home and G.I.s abroad with swing and boogie-woogie, Fauser shows it was classical music that truly distinguished musical life in the wartime United States. Classical music in 1940s America had a ubiquitous cultural presence--whether as an instrument of propaganda or a means of entertainment, recuperation, and uplift--that is hard to imagine today, and Fauser suggests that no other war enlisted culture in general and music in particular so consciously and unequivocally as World War II. Indeed, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Group Theatre director Harold Clurman wrote to his cousin, Aaron Copland: "So you're back in N.Y. . . ready to defend your country in her hour of need with lectures, books, symphonies!" Copland was in fact involved in propaganda missions of the Office of War Information, as were Marc Blitzstein, Elliott Carter, Henry Cowell, Roy Harris, and Colin McPhee. It is the works of these musical greats--as well as many other American and exiled European composers who put their talents to patriotic purposes--that form the core of Fauser's enlightening account. Drawing on music history, aesthetics, reception history, and cultural history, Sounds of War recreates the remarkable sonic landscape of the World War II era and offers fresh insight to the role of music during wartime.
Grigory Efimovich Rasputin came to St. Petersburg from his Siberian cabin in 1903 like a projectile from the medieval past, tattered, black-clad, muttering. By the time he was murdered thirteen years later, the peasant was the "beloved" Friend  of Tsar Nicholas and Empress Alexandra and the sponsor of the most powerful officials in Russia. He had become, a society lady wrote, "a dusk enveloping all our world, eclipsing the sun. How could so pitiful a wretch throw so vast a shadow? It was inexplicable, maddening, almost incredible. "

Rasputin's name has become synonymous with evil, but his legend has obscured the facts of his life. In this evocative biography, Brian Moynahan presents us with a flesh-and-blood Rasputin, more fascinating than the myth--a man in whom debauchery coexisted beside a real (if erratic) spiritual sense, a man whose coarseness hid a savvy awareness of human psychology. Drawing on confidential police reports, cabinet meeting memos, and other documents, some available only since the fall of the Soviet Union, Moynahan sheds new light on Rasputin's life and disputes some of the widely held details of his death.
   
The young Rasputin was a drinker, thief, and womanizer. He claimed to have religious visions and became a wandering holy man, preaching that exposure to sin could drive out sin. He stormed the fashionable salons of St. Petersburg, and in 1905 he met Nicholas and Alexandra, who, increasingly despised by the sophisticated, found in Rasputin reassurance that the "real Russia,  the simple and pious peasantry, loved them. Rasputin's mysterious ability to stop the bleeding attacks of their hemophiliac only son, Alexis, sealed the approval of the domineering Alexandra. With royal patronage, Rasputin became increasingly reckless, partying with prostitutes, peddling influence, plotting the disgrace of those who crossed him. Ever contradictory, he was also a devoted family man, a defender of the poor, and a figure of immense charisma. As Germany battered Russia during World War I, as Nicholas's ineptitude as a leader became ever more rampant and the masses went hungry, Rasputin seemed to monarchists to be the cause, and not just the symptom, of corrupt government. A group of conspirators gathered--among them a grand duke and a scion of the richest family in Russia--and one of the most famous murders in history was planned.
   
Set against the vivid backdrop of prerevolutionary Russia, Rasputin is a portrait of an age as well as of a man.

NOTE: This edition does not include photographs.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Big Oil and Gas Versus Democracy—Winner Take All
 
In 2010, the words “earthquake swarm” entered the lexicon in Oklahoma. That same year, a trove of Michael Jackson memorabilia—including his iconic crystal-encrusted white glove—was sold at auction for over $1 million to a guy who was, officially, just the lowly forestry minister of the tiny nation of Equatorial Guinea. And in 2014, Ukrainian revolutionaries raided the palace of their ousted president and found a zoo of peacocks, gilded toilets, and a floating restaurant modeled after a Spanish galleon. Unlikely as it might seem, there is a thread connecting these events, and Rachel Maddow follows it to its crooked source: the unimaginably lucrative and equally corrupting oil and gas industry.

With her trademark black humor, Maddow takes us on a switchback journey around the globe, revealing the greed and incompetence of Big Oil and Gas along the way, and drawing a surprising conclusion about why the Russian government hacked the 2016 U.S. election. She deftly shows how Russia’s rich reserves of crude have, paradoxically, stunted its growth, forcing Putin to maintain his power by spreading Russia’s rot into its rivals, its neighbors, the West’s most important alliances, and the United States. Chevron, BP, and a host of other industry players get their star turn, most notably ExxonMobil and the deceptively well-behaved Rex Tillerson. The oil and gas industry has weakened democracies in developed and developing countries, fouled oceans and rivers, and propped up authoritarian thieves and killers. But being outraged at it is, according to Maddow, “like being indignant when a lion takes down and eats a gazelle. You can’t really blame the lion. It’s in her nature.”

Blowout is a call to contain the lion: to stop subsidizing the wealthiest businesses on earth, to fight for transparency, and to check the influence of the world’s most destructive industry and its enablers. The stakes have never been higher. As Maddow writes, “Democracy either wins this one or disappears.”
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