Thursday, July 27, 2017

Symphony For The City Of The Dead

Symphony For TheCity Of The Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich And The Siege Of Leningrad, 456 pages

"National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson delivers a brilliant and riveting account of the Siege of Leningrad and the role played by Russian composer Shostakovich and his Leningrad Symphony. In September 1941, Adolf Hitler's Wehrmacht surrounded Leningrad in what was to become one of the longest and most destructive sieges in Western history--almost three years of bombardment and starvation that culminated in the harsh winter of 1943--1944. More than a million citizens perished. Survivors recall corpses littering the frozen streets, their relatives having neither the means nor the strength to bury them. Residents burned books, furniture, and floorboards to keep warm; they ate family pets and--eventually--one another to stay alive. Trapped between the Nazi invading force and the Soviet government itself was composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who would write a symphony that roused, rallied, eulogized, and commemorated his fellow citizens--the Leningrad Symphony, which came to occupy a surprising place of prominence in the eventual Allied victory. This is the true story of a city under siege: the triumph of bravery and defiance in the face of terrifying odds. It is also a look at the power--and layered meaning--of music in beleaguered lives. Symphony for the City of the Dead is a masterwork thrillingly told and impeccably researched by National Book Award--winning author M. T. Anderson." This was hard to read because of the subject matter.  Anderson doesn't stint on writing about the hardships the people of Leningrad endured or on the brutality of Stalin's government.  However, it was well written and Anderson makes the subject matter fascinating, even in the midst of the horror.  I would definitely recommend this to history buffs.

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