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Ester and Ruzya

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Ester and Ruzya by Masha Gessen
Paperback $17.00
Oct 25, 2005 | ISBN 9780385336055

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  • Oct 25, 2005 | ISBN 9780385336055

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  • Dec 30, 2008 | ISBN 9780307484383

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“Reviewers sometimes call a work of nonfiction ‘as exciting as a novel,’ but that would be an understatement applied to this extraordinary family memoir. . . . Ester and Ruzya will remind you how much life, history and emotional and moral complexity the genre can convey in the hands of a wonderful writer.”The New York Times Book Review 

“Masha Gessen has written an indispensable history of Soviet Jews as seen through the eyes of two unforgettable women—her grandmothers. The scope and complexity of their characters rivals anything you will find in contemporary fiction. Their lives, underscored by hardship, compromise and hope, are rendered both with a granddaughter’s love and a journalist’s insight. A beautiful book.”—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story and Little Failure

“A loving memoir of two grandmothers that offers a penetrating look at two killer regimes. Masha Gessen’s wonderful book portrays human beings trying to live justly when there is virtually no way to do so.”—William Taubman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Khrushchev: The Man and His Era 

“This blend of historical depth with personal experience is a powerful mix, illuminating how family and friendship can grow in even the darkest eras.”Publishers Weekly

“A journalist’s memoir of her grandmothers also paints an eloquent portrait of two totalitarian powers, the havoc they wrought, and the countless burdens they imposed on ordinary families. . . . A masterful chronicle of dark and dangerous years, and a distinguished addition to the history of totalitarianism.”Kirkus Reviews
“A saga of two fascinating Russian-Jewish women making ends meet, making love, making homes, making agonizing compromises in the most terrible times of the twentieth century—witty, colorful, tragic, seething with life and character, it is a little classic of storytelling.”—Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The Romanovs: 1613-1918
“This is a deeply moving account of what it meant to be a Jew under Hitler’s rule and, equally brutal, Stalin’s rule. Masha Gessen, a talented writer with a human touch, has brilliantly used her grandmothers as a way to bring to life a grim era of East European history.”—Daniel Schorr, former senior news analyst for National Public Radio

Ester and Ruzya is an example of what’s best in Russia’s literary tradition—a beautifully written personal story with universal significance.”—Nina Khrushcheva, Professor of International Affairs, The New School
“Beautifully written and deeply felt, Masha Gessen’s Ester and Ruzya tells the story of the two totalitarian regimes that reigned in twentieth-century Europe from a completely fresh perspective. Gessen’s description of the compromises people made to survive should force those of us living in a luckier era to think harder about what we mean by ‘morality.’”—Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag: A History and Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine

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