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Russka: The Novel of Russia [Paperback]

Edward Rutherfurd
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 1 2005
Spanning 1800 years of Russia's history, people, poltics, and culture, Edward Rurtherford, author of the phenomenally successful SARUM: THE NOVEL OF ENGLAND, tells a grand saga that is as multifaceted as Russia itself. Here is a story of a great civilization made human, played out through the lives of four families who are divided by ethnicity but united in shaping the destiny of their land.
"Rutherford's RUSSKA succeeds....[He] can take his place among an elite cadre of chroniclers such as Harold Lamb, Maurice Hindus and Henri Troyat."

From the Paperback edition.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

With his second sprawling historical novel, Rutherfurd moves from his hometown of Salisbury, England, the site of the bestselling Sarum , to the rich foreign soil of Russia. Though the structure and style mirror that of his first saga, Rutherfurd's close observation of Russia's religious and ethnic diversity give this epic a distinctive flavor. Focusing on the changing fortunes of the small town of Russka and its controlling families, Rutherfurd moves from the tribes of the steppes in the second century A.D. through Cossacks, Tatars, Tsars, revolution and Stalin to touch on a contemporary Russian emigre community near New York City. He weaves an expansive tapestry of Russian lore with a vivid exploration of the historical influences on the modern Russian psyche. Though thoroughly researched, the novel is diminished by occasional soap-opera twists in the narrative thread and present-day phrasing ("pin money," "red tape," "heads or tails") used in distracting asides to the reader. Literary Guild selection.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In his newest novel, Rutherfurd does for Russia what his last novel, Sarum ( LJ 9/15/87), did for England. Focusing on a small farming community in the Russian heartland between the Dnieper and the Don at the edge of the steppes, he traces its growth through its inhabitants from the first Tatar raid on the Slavs through the Cossacks, aristocrats, and an emigre's recent return. These interconnected lives present a vast panoramic portrait of Russia and its history. However, abundance of historic detail, fascinating though it is, intrudes and overwhelms. Transitions from intertwined stories of succeeding generations are abrupt and the reader longs for more character and plot development. Recommended for devotees of James Michener and Sarum . Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/91.
- Cynthia Johnson Whealler, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and readable Dec 18 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Briefly, Russka is a novel that follows two families through the rich and dramatic history of one of the most powerful countries in the world today. I am currently on a Russian literature binge and bought this book to read after finishing War and Peace. Expecting a bland modern twist on War and Peace, I was delighted to find that this book explores not only the lives and emotions of the characters, but also the anthropological aspects of its history, including genetic characteristics, social class structure, and linguistics. (As a scholar of anthropology and archaeology I found this fascinating.) I suppose my one complaint would be that because this novel spans about one thousand years it makes it more difficult to follow the character lineage. (Although I do understand the author's intent.) I found myself referring to the family tree at the beginning of the book quite a bit. The trials and tribulations of the families in the novel are believable and interesting, and like War and Peace I found the characters realistic, yet I found the most rewarding aspect of the novel the fact that I have a new and better understanding of the Russian people. The origin of the features, the personality, the passion, the strength that are distinctly Russian has been revealed to me. Am I now closer to understanding Russia's strange, twisted social and political past and its wonderful people? Perhaps I am, but like all good books Russka left me with the hunger to learn more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I recommend it to anyone! Best book I ever read. June 28 2000
By Elianna
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I first picked up this book at the library when I was doing research on russian history. After looking at the number of pages, I quickly put it down. It was only after I finished my project that I decided that I would buy the book because I found russian history so fascinating. I was not dissapointed. Mr. Rutherfurd goes into such detail that you grow to love the characters, you grow to understand russian culture so much more. So many people are still clinging to the steriotypes of Communist Russia: if they could read this book, I am sure that they would understand our friends in the east. What I enjoyed the most about the book was the fact that it was also educational. I even learned things that I did not discover in my studies. But that doesn't mean that if you know nothing about Russia that you won't understand the book, far from that. Rutherfurd takes the time to explain what is happening, so the reader is never lost. I'd recommend this book to anyone. If a 17 year old can read it and enjoy it, anyone can.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roots of Thought July 14 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have traveled to Russia five times in the past five years and have often marveled at their way of thinking. Russka does a wonderful (and delightful) job of exposing the roots of Russian Thought. Orthodoxy, the autocratic rule of the Tsars (and future leaders) and Russian Nationalistic Pride provide the three pronged stool Russian Thinking rests upon. Read this book to see these three legs masterfully crafted and united. It will open up to you the vast riches and complexities of mystrious Russia. Russka takes us past the Cold War stereo types and evening news sound bites to the heart of Russia, the struggles of her people and her political turmoil that seems unending. Russka is Russia with a human face. It is well worth the time invested in reading it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Russkie Business March 12 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As an Anglophile, I fell in love with Rutherfurd's 3 novels of England. I really wasn't sure about reading Russka, but I took a small risk based on the other books. Again, Rutherfurd engages the reader and holds one's attention for nearly 1000 pages. In the process, one is educated about a mysterious and complex land and its people. The only thing I want is more Rutherfurd!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Spassiva Aug. 28 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Reading Rutherfurd brings instantly one other author to mind, the late James Michener. Like Michener (most of his books, at least), Rutherfurd chooses one specific place (London, for example) and, through a series of characters inhabiting that place, he tells the story of a nation, or of a city. In this case, the "place" is the biggest country in the world: Russia, and her neighbours.
Like "Sarum", which tells the hisstory of England, "Russka" is the hisstory of Russia told from the point of view of three families, each occupying a different position in russian society. From the II century, through the tsarist empire and finally the October Revolution, Rutherfurd, in more than 900 pages, was able to provide his readers with the right blend between a well-created fiction with the most important parts of russian history. And yet, I thought this book was shorter than it could be.
Rutherfurd's style sometimes leave the reader tired. Some of his sentences are a little too prosaic for the kind of fiction he's intended to write. He abuses the right to use the word "For" (as in "For Nicolai was the greatest poet in Ukraine") to begin a phrase. One other problem I found was concerning the division of the book. The part I expected the most was the Revolution. I was satisfied when I read it. It's well written, interesting and holds the attention of the reader. In fact, the Revolution is the climax of russian history (at least in my opinion, I'm not russian and I really don't know that much about russian history), and the author does a good job in building the tension and creating a very "russian" atmosphere in the previous chapters before the revolution. But the problem is that, after 1917, the book ends.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Russka
Loving this book----just as good as all his other novels------particularly enjoy the history and variety of characters. I always learn something interesting.
Published 3 months ago by Marianne Clayton
4.0 out of 5 stars An Epic Tale of Russia
This is an excellent book. I would appreciate a better map and a glossary of terms with a time line in the back of the book. Read more
Published 5 months ago by P. Halliday
5.0 out of 5 stars Russian History Brought to Life
Edward Rutherford not only follows the historical development of Russia but infuses its history with the emotional lives of its characters both fictional and real. Read more
Published 12 months ago by jill brock
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done
This excellent work employs the same formula as in Rutherfurd's first book, Sarum: The Novel of England, which, as I have said in my review of that excellent work, is one of my all... Read more
Published on Aug. 21 2010 by C. J. Thompson
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Rutherfurd's best novel
I have read a number of books by Rutherfurd, including Sarum, the Forest, and London. In my opinion each of these novels was excellent to outstanding. Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2007 by D. Brocks
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Weave of Storytelling and HIstory
Like his English history novels Sarum and London, Rutherfurd puts people into history in a way that leaves you feeling as though you've lived in their time and place. Read more
Published on June 20 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine Read, But Pale Imitation of Russian Originals
I was very, very sceptical of Russka from the moment it was first published. It would be impossible, I thought, to novelize over a thousand years of incredibly rich history. Read more
Published on April 3 2003 by jrmspnc
4.0 out of 5 stars Big book; somewhat weak ending
This novel is, of course, a historical novel about Russia. The author seems to be most interested in the period before 1800 or so. After he reaches 1800 the books drags a bit. Read more
Published on Sept. 24 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost in Russia
I was looking for a novel that would, hopefully, possess me. I was traveling to Russia, and I wanted an education in Russian history while enjoying a great story. Read more
Published on Sept. 15 2001 by C. Dabney
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Depiction of a Much Maligned Nation
This was my first book by Rutherford, read even before SARUM. I've been mildly interested in Russia for a while, and I was intrigued to see the book... Read more
Published on Aug. 4 2001 by "jochrid"
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