100 books like Through Soviet Jewish Eyes

By David Shneer,

Here are 100 books that Through Soviet Jewish Eyes fans have personally recommended if you like Through Soviet Jewish Eyes. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Pieter Bruegel: The Complete Works

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern Author Of Lenin's Jewish Question

From my list on European art, culture, and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern is the Crown Family Professor of Jewish Studies and a Professor of Jewish History in the History Department at Northwestern University. He teaches a variety of courses that include early modern and modern Jewish history; Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah; history and culture of Ukraine; and Slavic-Jewish literary encounters.

Yohanan's book list on European art, culture, and history

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern Why did Yohanan love this book?

Although it is published as a coffee-table book with beautiful and carefully prepared illustrations, this is the best biography of Pieter Bruegel and a cultural study of his times and works. Magnificently written, exuberantly rich, it will please anybody interested in early modern history, art, Reformation, and colonial wars. This is the book to read slowly, as one drinks vintage wine. 

By Thomas Schauerte, Jürgen Müller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pieter Bruegel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The life and times of Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1526/30-1569) were marked by stark cultural conflict. He witnessed religious wars, the Duke of Alba's brutal rule as governor of the Netherlands, and the palpable effects of the Inquisition. To this day, the Flemish artist remains shrouded in mystery. We know neither where nor exactly when he was born. But while early scholarship emphasized the vernacular character of his painting and graphic work, modern research has attached greater importance to its humanistic content.

Starting out as a print designer for publisher Hieronymus Cock, Bruegel produced numerous print series that were…


Book cover of Whistler: A Life for Art's Sake

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern Author Of Lenin's Jewish Question

From my list on European art, culture, and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern is the Crown Family Professor of Jewish Studies and a Professor of Jewish History in the History Department at Northwestern University. He teaches a variety of courses that include early modern and modern Jewish history; Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah; history and culture of Ukraine; and Slavic-Jewish literary encounters.

Yohanan's book list on European art, culture, and history

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern Why did Yohanan love this book?

Known to broad public due to the hilarious “Whistler’s Mother” starring Mr. Bean, James Whistler is a paramount American participant in the Fin-de-siècle artistic life of France and England and a predecessor of most important artistic endeavors of the 20th century. Daniel Sutherland combed all possible archives and  produced a stunning study of Whistler’s private life, full of scandals, sufferings, travels, and triumphs. From the childhood Whister spent in the tsarist Russia to his vagabond life in Paris, his life is always a journey and a self-quest. Eminently readable and bright narrative of a somber and paradoxical character.

By Daniel E. Sutherland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Whistler as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A major new biography of James McNeill Whistler, one of most complex, intriguing, and important of America's artists

This engaging personal history dispels the popular notion of James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) as merely a combative, eccentric, and unrelenting publicity seeker. The Whistler revealed in these beautifully illustrated pages is an intense, introspective, and complex man, plagued by self-doubt and haunted by an endless pursuit of perfection in his painting and drawing.

"[Sutherland] seeks to get behind the public Whistler . . . never judging or condescending to his subject. . . . The portrait of Whistler that emerges is complex…


Book cover of Marc Chagall: The Lost Jewish World

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern Author Of Lenin's Jewish Question

From my list on European art, culture, and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern is the Crown Family Professor of Jewish Studies and a Professor of Jewish History in the History Department at Northwestern University. He teaches a variety of courses that include early modern and modern Jewish history; Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah; history and culture of Ukraine; and Slavic-Jewish literary encounters.

Yohanan's book list on European art, culture, and history

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern Why did Yohanan love this book?

One can read this book in two ways: as a highly representative collection of Marc Chagall’s works from different periods of his almost century-long life – and as an insightful study of the meaning of Chagall’s works. Harshav’s short analytical essays of Chagall’s major paintings emphasize how Yiddish idioms and the images of traditional Jewish world of the shtetl shape much of Chagall’s later artistic endeavors. Whatever the painter from Vitebsk put on canvas, he was bringing to life his recollections of the language his spoke as a child and artifacts among which he grew up.

By Benjamin Harshav,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marc Chagall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the first book to focus on Chagall's Jewish roots. Chagall is one of the most popular artists of the 20th Century, with work in every major museum in the world. The book includes 200 illustrations, many from the little-known Russian theatre works, that have rarely been published before. The Russian-born French painter Marc Chagall is recognized as one of the most significant painters and graphic artists of the 20th century. This new book, "Marc Chagall and the Lost Jewish World", is the first book on Chagall, to illustrate succinct interpretations of Chagall's world and iconography, and the nature…


Book cover of Modernism in Kyiv: Jubilant Experimentation

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern Author Of Lenin's Jewish Question

From my list on European art, culture, and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern is the Crown Family Professor of Jewish Studies and a Professor of Jewish History in the History Department at Northwestern University. He teaches a variety of courses that include early modern and modern Jewish history; Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah; history and culture of Ukraine; and Slavic-Jewish literary encounters.

Yohanan's book list on European art, culture, and history

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern Why did Yohanan love this book?

This excellent collection of articles by the top connoisseurs of East European art and culture discusses how Ukrainians and Jews created new trends in art and literature in the midst of the revolutionary turmoil Kyiv, then short-lived capital of the Ukrainian People’s Republic and later of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. This book proves that avant-garde images and trends emerge from the revolutionary utopianism and the desire to create a universalistic language understandable beyond the ethnic divide and languages.

By Irena Makaryk, Virlana Tkacz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Modernism in Kyiv as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The study of modernism has been largely focused on Western cultural centres such as Paris, Vienna, London, and New York. Extravagantly illustrated with over 300 photos and reproductions, Modernism in Kyiv demonstrates that the Ukrainian capital was a major centre of performing and visual arts as well as literary and cultural activity. While arguing that Kyiv's modernist impulse is most prominently displayed in the experimental work of Les Kurbas, one of the masters of the early Soviet stage, the contributors also examine the history of the city and the artistic production of diverse groups including Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, and Poles.…


Book cover of The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry

Wendy Z. Goldman Author Of Fortress Dark and Stern: The Soviet Home Front During World War II

From my list on the Soviet Union in World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of Russian history at Carnegie Mellon University. I have visited Russia many times and spent years working in Russian archives. I am keenly aware of the impact World War II and the Nazis had on the country: a loss of 26-7 million people, wide-scale suffering, mass murder of civilians, and destruction of cities, towns, and villages. The majority of German divisions were concentrated on the eastern front, and it was here the Red Army broke the back of the Wehrmacht. Yet because of divisions created by the Cold War, Americans are taught little about the central role the Soviet Union played in this victory. As a historian, I am strongly committed to bringing the full story of the war to light.

Wendy's book list on the Soviet Union in World War II

Wendy Z. Goldman Why did Wendy love this book?

Most Western readers are familiar with the holocaust carried out by the Nazis in Europe, but know little about the almost two million Jews murdered by the Nazis in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union. Here, the Germans embarked on a “holocaust by bullets,” rounding up the Jewish inhabitants, imprisoning them in camps and ghettos, and then shooting them at the edge of vast pits and ravines. 

Grossman and Ehrenburg, renowned Soviet war journalists and members of the Jewish Anti Fascist Committee, began collecting eyewitness testimonies and other documents during the war. Yet the Soviet state, following the policy, “we do not divide the dead,” refused to permit publication of the book they assembled because it was too focused on the particularity of Jewish suffering. The Complete Black Book, a powerful compilation of firsthand reports, is essential to understanding the full scope of the German campaign for Jewish…

By Ilya Ehrenburg, Vasily Grossman, David Patterson (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewryis a collection of eyewitness testimonies, letters, diaries, affidavits, and other documents on the activities of the Nazis against Jews in the camps, ghettoes, and towns of Eastern Europe. Arguably, the only apt comparism is to The Gulag Archipelago of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. This definitive edition of The Black Book, including for the first time materials omitted from previous editions, is a major addition to the literature on the Holocaust. It will be of particular interest to students, teachers, and scholars of the Holocaust and those interested in the history of Europe.

By the end…


Book cover of Album of My Life

Sylvia Maultash Warsh Author Of Find Me Again: A Rebecca Temple Mystery

From my list on Holocaust memoirs to understand what real people experienced.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a child of Holocaust survivors who spent three years in slave labour camps. My mother told me stories of her experiences a child should probably not hear. The result is that my philosophy of life, and sometimes my writing, can be dark. It’s no surprise that this period of history imbues my novels. I chose to write mysteries to reach a wider audience, the Holocaust connections integral to the stories. During my research, I discovered a wealth of information on the Holocaust but learned that memoirs revealed best what happened to people on the ground. Memoirs draw you into the microcosm of a person’s life with its nostalgia, yearning, and inevitable heartbreak.

Sylvia's book list on Holocaust memoirs to understand what real people experienced

Sylvia Maultash Warsh Why did Sylvia love this book?

Ann Szedlecki’s richly detailed memoir starts: “I am the daughter of nobody... Who am I? My past is gone, disappeared.” As a student in my writing class for seniors, her slightly-accented voice read out excerpts of her poignant manuscript. How do you remember all this, I used to ask. She would just smile sadly. Her story begins in pre-war Poland, showing us the loving family later destroyed. When the Nazis invade, Jews are beaten and killed at random in the streets. At fourteen, she and her older brother head east to the Soviet Union, ending up in Siberia. A gifted writer, she depicts the brutality of life in a labour camp but also the kindness of strangers; then the heartbreaking description of returning to Poland to find none of her family survived.  

By Ann Szedlecki,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Album of My Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ann Szedlecki was a Hollywood-film-loving fourteen-year-old when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 and she fled to the Soviet Union with her older brother, hoping to return for the rest of her family later. Instead, she ended up spending most of the next six and a half years alone in the Soviet Union, enduring the harsh conditions of northern Siberia under Stalin’s Communist regime. Szedlecki’s beautifully written story, which lovingly reconstructs her pre-war childhood in Lodz, is also compelling for its candour about her experiences as a woman in the Soviet Union during World War II. As a very young…


Book cover of Chance: Escape from the Holocaust: Memories of a Refugee Childhood

Allan Zullo Author Of Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust

From my list on about children in the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have penned more than 120 nonfiction books on a broad range of subjects for general audiences and middle-school readers, including five books about the true-life experiences of young people during the Holocaust.  The most heartbreaking, yet inspiring, moments in my decades-long writing career have been my interviews with Holocaust survivors, who, as children, relied on their courage, their faith, their smarts—and sometimes their luck—to endure years of unbelievable terror.

Allan's book list on about children in the Holocaust

Allan Zullo Why did Allan love this book?

Through his poignant words and stark drawings, Uri—a renowned children’s book author and illustrator—recounts his harrowing eight-year childhood ordeal when he and his Jewish family fled from the Nazis.  The book is an absorbing first-person narrative that describes his constant fear, daily hunger and recurring loneliness as he and his family eluded the enemy at every turn.  Uri’s haunting, imaginative drawings help bring this riveting true story into sharp, emotional focus.

By Uri Shulevitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

From a beloved voice in children's literature comes this landmark memoir of hope amid harrowing times and an engaging and unusual Holocaust-related story. With backlist sales of over 2.3 million copies, one of FSG BYR's most acclaimed picture-book creators details the eight-year odyssey of how he and his Jewish family escaped the terrors of the Nazis by fleeing Warsaw for the Soviet Union. It was during those years, with threats at every turn, that the young Uri experienced his awakening as an artist, an experience that played a key role during this difficult time. By turns dream like and nightmarish,…


Book cover of Young Heroes of the Soviet Union: A Memoir and a Reckoning

Lisa Dickey Author Of Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia

From my list on the Russian people.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lisa Dickey is an author and book collaborator who’s helped write 20+ nonfiction books, including 10 New York Times Best Sellers. She’s also a Russophile from way back:  her first post-college job was working as a nanny at the U.S. embassy in Moscow during the last days of the Soviet Union. Lisa began her writing career in St. Petersburg in the mid-1990s, writing for the Moscow Times and USA Today, and she’s the author of Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia.

Lisa's book list on the Russian people

Lisa Dickey Why did Lisa love this book?

Alex Halberstadt’s paternal grandfather was the last living bodyguard for Josef Stalin. His maternal grandparents were Lithuanian Jews who watched firsthand as their world caught fire in the Holocaust. And Alex, who grew up in Moscow but moved to New York as a teenager, is now an out gay American man. From this mad tapestry of personal history, Halberstadt weaves an incredibly moving story of identity, family, and inherited trauma.

By Alex Halberstadt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Young Heroes of the Soviet Union as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this “urgent and enthralling reckoning with family and history” (Andrew Solomon), an American writer returns to Russia to face a past that still haunts him. 
 
NAMED ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES CRITICS’ TOP BOOKS OF THE YEAR

Alex Halberstadt’s quest takes him across the troubled, enigmatic land of his birth, where decades of Soviet totalitarianism shaped and fractured three generations of his family. In Ukraine, he tracks down his paternal grandfather—most likely the last living bodyguard of Joseph Stalin. He revisits Lithuania, his Jewish mother’s home, to examine the legacy of the Holocaust and the pernicious anti-Semitism that…


Book cover of Life and Fate

Paul Clark Author Of The Price of Dreams

From my list on life in the Soviet Union.

Why am I passionate about this?

At the age of 16, I briefly joined the International Socialists, a small British Trotskyist party. Though I soon became disillusioned, it was a formative experience that left me with a lifelong fascination with communism and the Soviet Union. Over the following decades, I read everything I could about the subject, both fiction and non-fiction. In the years after the fall of communism, the ideas that eventually culminated in the writing of this book began to form in my head.

Paul's book list on life in the Soviet Union

Paul Clark Why did Paul love this book?

Grossman consciously attempted to write the War and Peace of the Second World War, and in this panoramic masterpiece, he pulled it off. Like War and Peace, the book focuses both on the travails of a single family and the broader sweep of history, as we witness events from the perspective of persecuted Jewish scientists, soldiers (both Soviet and German), partisans, peasants, and generals.

This is an intensely personal work – Grossman covered the battle of Stalingrad for the Soviet press and knew his subject matter firsthand. Writing it was also an extremely courageous act. The KGB confiscated the manuscript and Grossman never lived to see the book published.

By Vasily Grossman,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Life and Fate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based around the pivotal WWII battle of Stalingrad (1942-3), where the German advance into Russia was eventually halted by the Red Army, and around an extended family, the Shaposhnikovs, and their many friends and acquaintances, Life and Fate recounts the experience of characters caught up in an immense struggle between opposing armies and ideologies. Nazism and Communism are appallingly similar, 'two poles of one magnet', as a German camp commander tells a shocked old Bolshevik prisoner. At the height of the battle Russian soldiers and citizens alike are at last able to speak out as they choose, and without reprisal…


Book cover of The German Army and Nazi Policies in Occupied Russia, 1941-45

Antonio J. Muñoz Author Of Nazi Occupation Policies in the East, 1939-1944

From my list on the Holocaust and the Nazi Occupation of Eastern Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Cuban refugee. I came with my family in the early 1960s a few years after the Cuban revolution. I served 4 years in the U.S. Marines. I went to school and in 1982 married. Both of my daughters became college professors. The younger works for the CUNY system, while the oldest teaches at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. I have always had a passion for modern European history. It grew from an interest in military history when I was a Marine.

Antonio's book list on the Holocaust and the Nazi Occupation of Eastern Europe

Antonio J. Muñoz Why did Antonio love this book?

Professor Theo J. Schulte has written a well-documented, well researched study of the Ostheer (German Army in the East) covering the Russian campaign.

I loved this book because, like almost all of the recommendations that I have listed, it is a single volume with a concise yet thorough enough study of the German Army and its connection to the Genocide and Democide in the Soviet Union.

The book taught me that there was a reason why, during the war, out of the approximately twenty-five million Soviet citizens who died in the war, thirteen million were civilians. The reason, Schulte points to, is the purposeful targeting of the civilian population for murder (Democide).

The book made me realize that the study of Nazi policies in the East should not only include the Holocaust, but should also cover the “other” deaths that occurred as well.

By Theo J. Schulte,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The German Army and Nazi Policies in Occupied Russia, 1941-45 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Whereas it is now generally accepted that the Wehrmacht leadership became deeply implicated in Nazi war crimes and atrocities in occupied Soviet Russia during the Second World War, little is known about the responses of the lower ranks to these policies. This study of two rear areas examines these responses in respect of such issues as POW treatment, partisan warfare, relations with the civilian populations, economic policy and attitudes towards the SS. Above all it moves into the territory of the social history of the Wehrmacht, based on documents and statistical data.


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Interested in the Soviet Union, the Holocaust, and Jewish history?

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