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Leningrad: Tragedy of a City under Siege, 1941-44 Hardcover – 5 Sep 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1st Edition edition (5 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747599521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747599524
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 4.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 164,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

PRAISE FOR 'BORDERLAND'

'A beautifully written evocation of Ukraine's brutal past and its shaky efforts to construct a better future...Borderland is a tapestry woven of the stories of all its inhabitants, recording their triumphs and their conflicts with the fairness of a compassionate outsider' (Financial Times)

'If you think you couldn't be interested in Ukraine - and I thought I couldn't - you should read this book' (Matthew Parris, A Good Read, Radio 4)

Book Description

The siege of Leningrad is one of the great stories of extraordinary and heroic endurance in World War II

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By T. R. Cowdret on 3 Nov 2011
Format: Hardcover
Reid's new book focuses on one of the most woefully represented periods of World War Two: the Leningrad Siege. She tackles various cliches and misunderstandings (the heroism of the citizens as represented by Soviet propaganda, the pleasing and redemptive narrative arc presented by earlier histories) which have been previously written.

While the book focuses on the grand sweep of World War Two at various points, this is primarily 'street level' history, offering a look at the siege from the point of view of citizens who lived through it. We see their thoughts through memoirs and diaries written at the time, as well as through interviews by the author with the few remaining 'siege survivors.' A previous reviewer's comment about the history's over-reliance on such testimony seems to me slightly ridiculous. These people provide the real, heartbreaking evidence of how citizens suffered, died and survived the siege. Reid brings them and their stories to life marvellously.

The story that emerges, even to someone well versed in Soviet history, shows that regime to be shockingly incompetent and wasteful with human life. The Soviet authorities were complicit in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of their citizens in this tragedy alone. As Reid explains, the country is still coming to terms with how to deal with and memorialize this tragedy today.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By S. MOHAMADI on 19 Sep 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a detailed and amazing story of survival under the worst circumstances imaginable. For those interested in the history of Second World War this is a must read. Anna Reid knows her subject very well and has skilfully brought to life a part of recent history that we tend/wish to forget. we can't turn back the clock of course but there is still so much to learn from the painful past and this book has done a painstakingly research for us. All we have left to do now is to put time aside for reading it and reflecting on what went wrong.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ken Boyle on 6 Jan 2012
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to read about the story from a citizens point of view as I was aware that much of the history of the siege was written from Stalin`s point of wiew and
I knew that this was likely to be a whole lot of lies,the story is almost completely based on diary accounts of those inhabitants who lived through the long seige.It was facinating to hear how people managed ro survive; it amazes me that even through the worst periods the communists still managed to deal with so called enmies of the people.
Ifound it amazing that the mighty german army got bogged down on the perimeter of the city even though that the russian army was so disorganised.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By George Hargreaves on 16 Oct 2011
Format: Hardcover
Anna Reid writes with a beautiful balance of empathy and detachment about the extreme horror of starvation, cold and negligence which caused the death of 800,000 people in the 900 days of the Nazi blockade (1941-4) of Leningrad now renamed St Petersburg.
I read this book during a visit to this stunning city, and its recent emergence as a restored centre of culture and freedom is a testimony to the suffering of those who effectively enabled it to survive.The siege and its results also demonstrated the absolute inadequacy of dictatorships, whether as defenders or agressors, to operate other than with extreme cruelty, repression and corruption.
Anna Reid processes an enormous amount of research and archival material to masterfully transport the reader back into this nightmare and to explain its causes and effect with great width of vision and masterful selection of detail. It is an immensely readable,sad and salutary book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lance Grundy on 13 Feb 2013
Format: Paperback
When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 the first city scheduled for occupation was Leningrad [St Petersburg]. Not only was Leningrad a naval base and an important railway junction, it also contained numerous arms factories and was the symbolic "cradle of the Russian Revolution". Hitler was certain the loss of the "spiritual home of Bolshevism" would demoralize Soviet forces and break their will to fight. German troops reached the outskirts of the city in late August 1941 and by 8 September of that year they had completely encircled it. The Siege of Leningrad began. The siege would last for 872 days and would become one of the most destructive sieges in history and by far the most costly in terms of lives lost. By the time the siege was lifted on 18 January 1943 over 750,000 civilians alone, most of them women and children, had died of cold and hunger.

Anna Reid's book is an interesting, easy to read and meticulously researched account of the blockade of Leningrad. Drawing on newly available NKVD [Soviet secret police] files, eyewitness accounts, diaries and the testament of survivors of the siege - Blokadniki - Reid paints a vivid picture of life and death in a city and society on the verge of total collapse, a place where the very best of human nature is shown in all its glory and the very worst of human nature is shown in all its squalor. Focusing on the early days of the siege [three quarters of the book covers this period] Reid's sources describe the terrible first Winter of 1941-2 when cold, hunger and starvation wiped out tens of thousands of the city's people - although according to the Soviet records nobody starved to death in Leningrad at all; people died of a peculiar euphemism for death by hunger, "dystrophy".
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