10 books like Through Soviet Jewish Eyes

By David Shneer,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Through Soviet Jewish Eyes. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Pieter Bruegel

By Jürgen Müller, Thomas Schauerte,

Book cover of Pieter Bruegel: The Complete Works

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. 

Pieter Bruegel

By Jürgen Müller, Thomas Schauerte,

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…


Whistler

By Daniel E. Sutherland,

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

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.

Whistler

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…


Marc Chagall

By Benjamin Harshav,

Book cover of Marc Chagall: The Lost Jewish World

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.

Marc Chagall

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…


Modernism in Kyiv

By Irena Makaryk, Virlana Tkacz,

Book cover of Modernism in Kyiv: Jubilant Experimentation

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.

Modernism in Kyiv

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.…


The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry

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

Book cover of The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry

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…

The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry

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…


Album of My Life

By Ann Szedlecki,

Book cover of Album of My Life

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.  

Album of My Life

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…


Chance

By Uri Shulevitz,

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

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.

Chance

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.

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,…


Young Heroes of the Soviet Union

By Alex Halberstadt,

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

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.

Young Heroes of the Soviet Union

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…


Life and Fate

By Vasily Grossman,

Book cover of Life and Fate

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.

Life and Fate

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…


Babi Yar

By A. Anatoli, David Floyd (translator),

Book cover of Babi Yar: A Document in the Form of a Novel

First published in a censored version in the Soviet Union in 1966, Kuznetsov managed to publish an uncensored version in 1970 after his defection to the UK. The book was one of the first accounts of the massacre that killed more than 33,000 Jews over the course of two days, September 29-30, 1941. Readers can hear the sense of urgency in Kuznetsov’s voice as he tells the world what happened in that place.

Babi Yar

By A. Anatoli, David Floyd (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The powerful rediscovered masterpiece of Kyiv during the Second World War, told by a young boy who saw it all.

'So here is my invitation: enter into my fate, imagine that you are twelve, that the world is at war and that nobody knows what is going to happen next...'

It was 1941 when the German army rolled into Kyiv. The young Anatoli was just twelve years old. This book is formed from his journals in which he documented what followed.

Many Ukrainians welcomed the invading army, hoping for liberation from Soviet rule. But within ten days the Nazis had…


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