100 books like Vekhi

By Nikolei Berdiaev, Sergei Bulgakov, Mikhail Gershenson , A.S. Izgoev , Bogdan Kistiakovskii , Petr Struve , Frank Semen

Here are 100 books that Vekhi fans have personally recommended if you like Vekhi. 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 Origins of Totalitarianism

Dorian Lynskey Author Of The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell's 1984

From my list on totalitarianism not written by George Orwell.

Why am I passionate about this?

In The Ministry of Truth, I wanted to bring together two longstanding interests: dystopian fiction and the history of totalitarianism. Nineteen Eighty-Four is of course a landmark work in both categories. In trying to explain how and why Orwell came to write his masterpiece, and its subsequent influence on fiction and political thought, I read a huge range of books that wrestled with the horrors of Nazism and Stalinism and asked how they were able to hold sway, physically and mentally, over tens of millions of people. Many of them are gripping and valuable but these five in particular make for great companions to 1984.

Dorian's book list on totalitarianism not written by George Orwell

Dorian Lynskey Why did Dorian love this book?

Arendt’s three-part masterwork had the same US editor as 1984 and can be read as the non-fiction equivalent. While scholars have subsequently questioned aspects of her grand theory of totalitarianism, much of it holds up. Her commanding, aphoristic prose has made this one of the most widely quoted books of recent years, especially on the subject of power creating its own alternate reality: “In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time… think that everything was possible and that nothing was true.”

By Hannah Arendt,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Origins of Totalitarianism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hannah Arendt's definitive work on totalitarianism—an essential component of any study of twentieth-century political history.

The Origins of Totalitarianism begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia—which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses…


Book cover of The Russian Tradition

David Satter Author Of Never Speak to Strangers and Other Writing from Russia and the Soviet Union

From my list on understanding the Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Russia.

Why am I passionate about this?

David Satter is a leading commentator on Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is the author of five books on Russia and the creator of a documentary film on the fall of the Soviet Union. He has been affiliated with the Hudson Institute and the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He is presently a member of the academic advisory board of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

David's book list on understanding the Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Russia

David Satter Why did David love this book?

Tibor Szamuely was the nephew of a leading Hungarian communist who was killed in the purges. In this book, completed just before his death at 47, he traces the process through which Russians were enslaved by the state. Peasants were progressively bound to the land. The Russian church accepted the fusion of political and religious authority in the person of the Tsar. After the fall of Byzantium, the tsars, as the heads of the only surviving Orthodox state, treated Moscow as the ”Third Rome” and began to claim worldwide moral and political leadership. This claim was supported by the Russian people who saw in it justification for their miserable conditions. Communism was supposed to be entirely new but as Szamuely eloquently shows, it merely modernized the Russian state tradition.

By Tibor Szamuely,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This analysis of Russian history traces the essential features of Revolutionary Russia back to medieval times when authoritarian rule first became a prerequisite of survival and is intended as a contribution to our understanding of the Soviet Union.


Book cover of The Seven Days of Creation

David Satter Author Of Never Speak to Strangers and Other Writing from Russia and the Soviet Union

From my list on understanding the Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Russia.

Why am I passionate about this?

David Satter is a leading commentator on Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is the author of five books on Russia and the creator of a documentary film on the fall of the Soviet Union. He has been affiliated with the Hudson Institute and the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He is presently a member of the academic advisory board of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

David's book list on understanding the Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Russia

David Satter Why did David love this book?

In this multi-generational novel, Maximov showed what the Soviet system meant for ordinary people whose speech he had a rare gift for capturing. In his portrait of seven decades of the Lashkov family, he showed how the drive of the communists to control the lives of others on the basis of an ideology whose implications they themselves did not understand tore families apart. Pyotr Lashkov, the patriarch, became totally alienated from his alcoholic anti-communist brother.  Vadim Lashkov, a member of the third generation, is put in a mental hospital. A fellow prisoner advises him: “If ever you think of trying to escape, the search will be thorough, very thorough. And they’ll find you… because you’ve found out a little more than ordinary mortals are supposed to know.”

By Vladimir Maximov,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Seven Days of Creation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Text: English, Russian (translation)


Book cover of Moscow - 2042

David Satter Author Of Never Speak to Strangers and Other Writing from Russia and the Soviet Union

From my list on understanding the Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Russia.

Why am I passionate about this?

David Satter is a leading commentator on Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is the author of five books on Russia and the creator of a documentary film on the fall of the Soviet Union. He has been affiliated with the Hudson Institute and the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He is presently a member of the academic advisory board of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

David's book list on understanding the Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Russia

David Satter Why did David love this book?

Vladimir Voinovich was probably the greatest Russian satirical writer since Gogol. After the fall of the U.S.S.R., he was asked if it was still possible to write satire in Russia. He insisted that it was. “The Soviet Union was a giant mental hospital but it was organized,” he explained. “Now, the inmates have been told that they can do whatever they want. So Russia is funnier than ever.”

In this novel, published in 1986, Voinovich demonstrated his stunning ability to divine the future. He described a new Russian regime dominated by state security and based not on Marxism-Leninism but on the teachings of the Orthodox Church. Like Russia today, the regime of his novel tells its citizens that they are surrounded by “three rings of hostility.” The first is the former Soviet republics; the second, the former Soviet satellites, the third, the West – the former “capitalist enemy.” This makes…

By Vladimir Voinovich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moscow - 2042 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this satire that pokes fun at the future of communism, socialist life, and the Kremlin, an exiled Soviet writer enters a time warp and lands in Moscow in the year 2042.


Book cover of Russian Thinkers

Henry Hardy Author Of In Search of Isaiah Berlin: A Literary Adventure

From my list on Isaiah Berlin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I had the supreme good fortune to know Berlin (1909–97) for nearly twenty-five years, and to work with him as his principal editor for most of that time; I continued this work after his death and it still occupies me now. He was one of the great human beings of the twentieth century, an essayist and letter-writer of genius, and a bewitching bridge between academia and the general civilised life of the mind. His ideas are fertile and illuminating to this day, and the immediately recognisable voice of his prose is the best possible intellectual company.

Henry's book list on Isaiah Berlin

Henry Hardy Why did Henry love this book?

As a Russian Jew and Russian-speaker by birth, a witness of the Russian Revolution, a historian of ideas by vocation, and a consummate prose-writer, Berlin was able to extract the pith of the nineteenth-century Russian intelligentsia and present it in English as no one else has before or since. Belinsky, Herzen, Tolstoy, Turgenev, and others come to life in these ten essays and speak to us and our concerns today in Berlin’s ventriloquistic tours de force.

In particular, Herzen’s passionate denunciation of political extremism plays a central role, and provides a moral underpinning for Berlin’s commitment to liberty. The book is a major contribution to the explanation of Russia to the West, and the reader is left in no doubt about the relevance and power of the ideas that Berlin illuminates.


By Isaiah Berlin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Few, if any, English-language critics have written as perceptively as Isaiah Berlin about Russian thought and culture. Russian Thinkers is his unique meditation on the impact that Russia's outstanding writers and philosophers had on its culture. In addition to Tolstoy's philosophy of history, which he addresses in his most famous essay, 'The Hedgehog and the Fox,' Berlin considers the social and political circumstances that produced such men as Herzen, Bakunin, Turgenev, Belinsky, and others of the Russian intelligentsia, who made up, as Berlin describes, 'the largest single Russian contribution to social change in the world.'


Book cover of Spies and Scholars: Chinese Secrets and Imperial Russia’s Quest for World Power

Sören Urbansky Author Of Beyond the Steppe Frontier: A History of the Sino-Russian Border

From my list on Russia in Asia.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sören Urbansky was born and raised in East Germany next to the Iron Curtain. Since embarking on an overland journey from Berlin to Beijing after high school, he became hooked by peoples’ lifeways in Northeast Asia. In college, Sören began studying history in earnest and grew intrigued by Russia and China, the world’s largest and most populous countries. He has published widely on this pivotal yet forgotten region. Sören is a research fellow at the German Historical Institute Washington and is currently embarking on a new project that examines anti-Chinese sentiments from a global perspective.

Sören's book list on Russia in Asia

Sören Urbansky Why did Sören love this book?

In recent years, we have seen a surge in books on contemporary Russia-China relations. Gregory Afinogenov’s Spies and Scholars takes us back to their humble beginnings in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. This pioneering study sheds new light on how the emergence of the Russian Empire as a global power was shaped through intelligence gathering in imperial China. A must-read not only for historians. 

By Gregory Afinogenov,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Financial Times Best Book of the Year

The untold story of how Russian espionage in imperial China shaped the emergence of the Russian Empire as a global power.

From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, the Russian Empire made concerted efforts to collect information about China. It bribed Chinese porcelain-makers to give up trade secrets, sent Buddhist monks to Mongolia on intelligence-gathering missions, and trained students at its Orthodox mission in Beijing to spy on their hosts. From diplomatic offices to guard posts on the Chinese frontier, Russians were producing knowledge everywhere, not only at elite institutions like the…


Book cover of The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy

Susana Aikin Author Of We Shall See the Sky Sparkling

From my list on Russian literature that I consider masterpieces.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and a filmmaker who has lived in New York City since 1982. In 1986 I started my own independent film production company, Starfish Productions, through which I produced and directed documentary films that won multiple awards, including an American Film Institute grant, a Rockefeller Fellowship, and an Emmy Award in 1997. I started writing fiction full-time in 2010. My debut novel, We Shall See the Sky Sparkling (Kensington Books) was published in 2/2019; my second novel The Weight of the Heart (Kensington Books) came out in 5/2020.

Susana's book list on Russian literature that I consider masterpieces

Susana Aikin Why did Susana love this book?

After worshiping Leo Tolstoy and his writing for long decades, the much later discovery of Sophia’s diaries came to me as a huge revelation: I learnt that no writer or artist is an island, but always part of a human ecosystem that nurtures and feeds their art. In the case of Tolstoy, it was his family and most particularly his wife. In her personal writings we meet the woman behind the great writer, married to him for 48 years, and who bore him 13 children. She was pivotal to his work, encouraging and supporting his literary career. Through her pages, we find out about her love for Tolstoy and their tormented marriage, in which she often felt neglected and provoked. We see the hidden, dark side of the great man of letters, a vastly gifted but troubled individual, and we also learn about Sophia’s undying vital energy that allowed her…

By Cathy Porter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Sofia Behrs married Count Leo Tolstoy, the author of "War and Peace", husband and wife regularly exchanged diaries covering the years from 1862 to 1910. Sofia's life was not an easy one: she idealized her husband, but was tormented by him; even her many children were not an unmitigated blessing. In the background of her life was one of the most turbulent periods of Russian history: the transition from old feudal Russia to the three revolutions and three major international wars. Yet it is as Sofia Tolstoy's own life story, the study of one woman's private experience, that the…


Book cover of Open Fire

Eva Seyler Author Of The War in Our Hearts

From my list on historical fiction books about WWI.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved history and historical stories, but like the majority of people, didn’t really know very much about WWI. That changed in early 2017 when I read The Zimmermann Telegram by Barbara W Tuchman. I immediately fell into a vortex of further reading, resulting in my writing The War in Our Hearts at the end of that year--because although there is a lot of great non-fiction out there about WWI, there aren’t nearly as many novels that quite scratched the itch I had for fiction…so I wrote the book I wanted to read!

Eva's book list on historical fiction books about WWI

Eva Seyler Why did Eva love this book?

This is a fantastic novel about a girl soldier in Russia who joins the Women’s Battalion of Death, during the time that the Russian Revolution was beginning and morale among male soldiers was flagging. The Russian army thought the men’s morale might be boosted if girls came along and gave the men a little competition. I love the camaraderie and amazing determination of these women to do their bit for their country.

By Amber Lough,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Open Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A dramatic page-turner that captures the devastating toll of war and the impact of women's struggles and solidarity, through the lens of a little-known slice of history.

In 1917, Russia is losing the war with Germany, soldiers are deserting in droves, and food shortages on the home front are pushing people to the brink of revolution. Seventeen-year-old Katya is politically conflicted, but she wants Russia to win the war. Working at a munitions factory seems like the most she can do to serve her country―until the government begins recruiting an all-female army battalion. Inspired, Katya enlists. Training with other brave…


Book cover of The Fall of Tsarism: Untold Stories of the February 1917 Revolution

Will Englund Author Of March 1917: On the Brink of War and Revolution

From my list on by witnesses to Russia’s February Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a longtime Moscow correspondent, having worked there for The Baltimore Sun in the 1990s and for The Washington Post in the 2010s. It was an exciting time to be in Russia, and I couldn’t help noticing parallels between the Russian revolutions of 1917 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. I think American policymakers, in particular, profoundly misunderstood both events. In my newspaper career, I am a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the George Polk Award, an Oversea Press Club award, and other honors. In the fall of 2018, I taught for a semester at Princeton University.

Will's book list on by witnesses to Russia’s February Revolution

Will Englund Why did Will love this book?

Amazingly, in the spring of 1917 an Interview Commission was formed in Russia to obtain oral histories of the revolution that led to the abdication of Czar Nicholas II. Thirteen key players were interviewed about their role in the sweeping and often violent events that had occurred just two months earlier. You can sense the ambivalence that they were struggling with. Of special note is Alexander Kerensky, who would become the leader of the Provisional Government, describing how he called Nicholas’ brother Michael in the middle of the night, waking him up, and persuading him to renounce the throne.

By Semion Lyandres,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Fall of Tsarism contains a series of gripping, plain-spoken testimonies from some of the leading participants of the Russian Revolution of February 1917, including the future revolutionary premier Alexander Kerenskii.

Recorded in the spring of 1917, months before the Bolsheviks seized power, these interviews represent the earliest first-hand testimonies on the overthrow of the Tsarist regime known to historians. Hidden away and presumed lost for the better part of a century, they are now revealed to the world for the first time.


Book cover of Modernization from the Other Shore: American Intellectuals and the Romance of Russian Development

John Philipp Baesler Author Of Clearer Than Truth: The Polygraph and the American Cold War

From my list on Russia in Western eyes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in West Germany, surrounded by American soldiers and with a father who had escaped communist East Germany, the Cold War always fascinated me. What was it about? Would it ever end? When it did, it took everybody by surprise. This lesson, that nothing is certain and that history can always make a turn when you least expect it, stayed with me as I pursued my degrees in history, first in Heidelberg and then at Indiana University Bloomington. As an immigrant to the United States, I study the United States from the outside and the inside. How Americans see themselves, and how they see others, is my main interest that I keep exploring from different angles.

John's book list on Russia in Western eyes

John Philipp Baesler Why did John love this book?

American observers were endlessly fascinated by Russia long before the Cold War began and before supposed Russian election interference became a news item. However, they could never make up their minds about what made the Russian people tick. In this eye-opening book, David Engerman shows how American journalists, diplomats, and social scientists romanticized and ridiculed Russian peasants, praised or condemned the attempts by the Tsar and the Bolsheviks to modernize Russia by force, and marbled at the Russian “national character.” Engerman in a masterly fashion reveals how prejudices have shaped American views of Russia.

By David C. Engerman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Modernization from the Other Shore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the late nineteenth century to the eve of World War II, America's experts on Russia watched as Russia and the Soviet Union embarked on a course of rapid industrialization. Captivated by the idea of modernization, diplomats, journalists, and scholars across the political spectrum rationalized the enormous human cost of this path to progress. In a fascinating examination of this crucial era, David Engerman underscores the key role economic development played in America's understanding of Russia and explores its profound effects on U.S. policy.

American intellectuals from George Kennan to Samuel Harper to Calvin Hoover understood Russian events in terms…


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