'I'm not a Russianist, but one doesn't need to be a Russianist, or even to have any pre-existing strong interest in Russia, to recognise this book as a quite brilliant work - or to be compelled by it. Part of my great admiration for it comes from Rachel's style, which is continuously and unarchly elegant. I don't think I found a single sentence out of the tens of thousands I read that I wanted written any differently ... Its erudition would be alarming, were it not so gracefully and wittily worn ... A huge intellectual and stylistic achievement ... It's been a privilege to read the book.' --Robert Macfarlane<br /><br />'Beautifully written, finely-balanced and rich in exactly the kinds of detail that make Russia's culture come alive. It incorporates a formidable amount of scholarship in the lightest and most appealing way. Wonderful, sparkling stuff.' --Catherine Merridale<br /><br />'Everywhere on this journey, Polonsky shows great curiosity about the web of personality and history, the connections between power and literature that form Russian history and society today, her erudition is always lightly worn ... I was gripped by this book.' --Simon Sebag Montefiore
'Polonsky weaves an extraordinary web of connections between people, places and books ... what is utterly fresh about this book is the personal engagement with the material, the capturing of place, mood and tone ... Although it would be hard to formulate all the truths that lie latent in this book, the command of detail is absolutely masterly.' --Sunday Telegraph
'It's a gem as she has achieved the unimaginable: a serious non-fiction account of Russia, which is as wide-ranging as it is entertaining ... This is a wonderful account of a changing Russia ... If you have always wanted to read an accessible, profound and original history of modern Russia, this is the book for you.' --Sunday Express
A luminous, original and unforgettable exploration of a country and its literature, viewed through the eyes of Vyacheslav Molotov, one of Stalin's fiercest henchmen.