This is a selection of Anna Achmatova's poetry spanning her whole writing career and starting in 1912. Although Russian history looms large in the background of these poems - many of those close to Akhmatova became victims of Stalinist terror - the atmosphere is not exclusively bleak in this collection. It also reveals her development as a poet and the diverse range of subjects she wrote about, from real-life events like the London Blitz in 'To The Londoners' written in 1940, to biblical figures and love poems. Dominating everything are the references to St Petersburg, the city she lived in for most of her life, and which forms the backdrop to what is probably the stand-out poem in this book, 'Poem Without A Hero'. Defining what it's 'about' is not easy - people and events in the city and in Russia over several decades, taking in references to censorship, political persecution and the Russian people, all skillfully woven together, is an approximate definition. How true it is to the original is impossible to say without a knowledge of Russian, but the translation certainly reads well, leaving you in no doubt that Akhmatova really was a great poet. The translator's notes at the back are also informative. This is a comprehensive and likable introduction to someone considered a major twentieth-century poet.