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The Last Man in Russia: The Struggle to Save a Dying Nation (2013)

por Oliver Bullough

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862247,551 (4.05)15
Examines the economic collapse, declining populations, and alcohol-related abuses that the author believes are indicative of Russia's communism-related decline, as the author follows the life of a dissident Orthodox priest, Father Dimitry Dudko.
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The Last Man in Russia is a riveting history of Russia, played out in the present. The unfortunate situation in the Crimea has brought new focus on Russia, whose actions and motivations seem at times to be completely divorced from reality. But there is a reason for everything, and much of Russia's reasoning remains rooted in its recent Soviet past.

The book focuses on the story of Fr. Dmitry Dudko, who rose from an obscure village at the end of the Second World War to become one of the Soviet Union's most famous dissenters of the 1960s and 70s. Bullough, a journalist by profession, attempts to piece together Dudko's life by visiting the places he lived and talking to those who knew him. In the process he also shares his experiences of modern Russia, of a people drink themselves to death and who die in far greater numbers than they are born. While Moscow grows, village after village shrinks out of existence. What could cause such a state? And how does it relate to Fr. Dudko's legacy? At a time when iit seems like Russia is slipping back to the Soviet mindset, these are important questions and Bullough's answers are both sobering and hopeful at the same time.

A must read for anyone with an interest in Russia today. The only thing it really needs is a map. Highly, highly recommended. ( )
  inge87 | Mar 14, 2014 |
Oliver Bullough has written a fascinating book about the current population decline in Russia that endangers the future of the country. Using the life of one man, Father Dmitry Dudko, as a metaphor for what has happened in the country, the author traces the priest's rise and fall. The high rate of alcohol abuse, the low birth rate, and the destruction of freedoms by the KGB are the main contributors to the current crisis in which Russia finds itself. Except for the largest cities, the country's population is shrinking rapidly with entire villages abandoned and their buildings collapsing. The books ends on a hopeful note that a new generation of socially aware and informed citizens will effect change so that Russia can once again become a great nation. Very interesting reading! ( )
1 vote khiemstra631 | May 18, 2013 |
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Bullough proves an entertaining guide. In lucid prose, he details his own joys and travails as he tries to sleep on sleeper trains, gets drunk with co-passengers, encounters grumpy hotel staff and generally wanders around looking for help.

This is an entertaining, informative and very well-written book. It is to be read as a travelogue or as a contentious primer on the second half of Russia’s twentieth century. But its qualities lie in its tales and details, not in its central theses.
adicionada por geocroc | editarWales Arts Review, Jim Morphy (Mar 24, 2014)
 
Bullough is a wonderful companion as he traces the course of Father Dudko’s life, visiting the miserable settlements and prisons he left behind. He evokes the biblical suffering that Father Dudko witnessed as a child, as Stalin forced peasants to give up their livestock and food stockpiles. He lingers in the prison camp where the young priest served eight years for writing poetry critical of the Communists.
adicionada por geocroc | editarNew York Times, Ellen Barry (Jun 7, 2013)
 
Dudko's life is not told in traditional biographical style. Rather, it becomes the motivating force behind Bullough's own voyage of discovery, as he visits the dismal places where Dudko worked and talks to some of those who knew him. Sitting in the former Lenin Library, he works his way through a pile of wartime leaflets published by the occupying German forces, and is able to demolish the Brezhnev-era charge that Dudko had published poetry in these mouthpieces of collaboration.
adicionada por geocroc | editarThe Guardian, Catriona Kelly (Jun 7, 2013)
 
Oliver Bullough is a former Reuters correspondent in Russia, and it shows – in the stylish writing, the attention to detail, the concern for accuracy, the elegant blend of observation and background information. It also shows, obliquely perhaps, in the evident delight he takes in leaving the straitjacket of agency reporting behind to write in his own voice. The result is an impressive and affecting depiction of the Russia of the 1960s and 1970s seen through the prism of today.
adicionada por geocroc | editarThe Independent, Mary Dejevsky (Apr 19, 2013)
 
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Examines the economic collapse, declining populations, and alcohol-related abuses that the author believes are indicative of Russia's communism-related decline, as the author follows the life of a dissident Orthodox priest, Father Dimitry Dudko.

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