The Last Man in Russia, and the Struggle to Save a Dying Nation

Oliver Bullough

The Last Man in Russia, and the Struggle to Save a Dying Nation

In the 1960s, when the Soviet Union said it was building heaven on earth and the brave, non-conformist dissidents lived like free men in the midst of this enormous prison, the Russian nation began to drink itself to death. For a while, government income from vodka surpassed their income from oil. Now, fifty years later, with the Soviet state dismantled, this is still a country where Muscovites might drink a bottle of vodka before breakfast, where demographers look with astonishment as the population of the world's largest country continues to fall, far beyond the rate of decline in the West. In The Last Man in Russia, award-winning writer Oliver Bullough uses the life of an extraordinary Orthodox priest, with equal passions for writing and for saving his fellow citizens from the KGB, to find out why. Following in the footsteps of Father Dmitry, Bullough reconstructs the world he experienced: the famine, the occupation, the war, the frozen wastes of the Gulag, the collapse of communism and the giddy excesses that followed it. 3.9 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
The Last Man in Russia, and the Struggle to Save a Dying Nation

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Society, Politics & Philosophy
Format
Pages
RRP
Date of Publication April 2013
ISBN 978-1846143731
Publisher Allen Lane
 

In the 1960s, when the Soviet Union said it was building heaven on earth and the brave, non-conformist dissidents lived like free men in the midst of this enormous prison, the Russian nation began to drink itself to death. For a while, government income from vodka surpassed their income from oil. Now, fifty years later, with the Soviet state dismantled, this is still a country where Muscovites might drink a bottle of vodka before breakfast, where demographers look with astonishment as the population of the world's largest country continues to fall, far beyond the rate of decline in the West. In The Last Man in Russia, award-winning writer Oliver Bullough uses the life of an extraordinary Orthodox priest, with equal passions for writing and for saving his fellow citizens from the KGB, to find out why. Following in the footsteps of Father Dmitry, Bullough reconstructs the world he experienced: the famine, the occupation, the war, the frozen wastes of the Gulag, the collapse of communism and the giddy excesses that followed it.

Let Our Fame Be Great by Oliver Bullough

Reviews

The Sunday Telegraph

Ian Thomson

[A] superb hybrid of travel and social analysis … The Last Man in Russia is distinguished by the excellence of its writing and its lucid, unsparing gaze.

15/04/2013

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The Sunday Times

Anthony Sattin

Out of the story of Father Dmitry’s life and the reality of a nation drowning in drink, Bullough draws an extraordinary portrait of a nation struggling to shed its past and find peace with itself.

07/04/2013

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The Observer

Anthony Sattin

Lively, well-written and commanding ... He is particularly good at conjuring key moments, vivid characters and credible dialogue, and at flipping between the small incident and the big picture.

14/04/2013

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The Daily Telegraph

Arthur House

So far, so bleak, but the subject matter is rendered palatable by Bullough’s brisk, lucid style and his skilful interweaving of historical context with his own rich experience of Russia. He has a talent for sketching the people he meets, often administering a welcome dose of humour (one landlady’s carefully dyed hair resembles “a squashed magpie”), and he appreciates the absurd, in the best Russian tradition.

10/04/2013

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The Literary Review

AD Miller

Eccentric but beguiling … The book becomes a kind of double quest: an attempt to fathom the causes of Russia's self-destruction and a bid to reconstruct and interpret Dudko's life. It is an ambitious gambit. Does it work? Intermittently … Readers who find the central conceit unconvincing will nonetheless appreciate the book as travelogue.

01/04/2013

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The Independent

Mary Dejevsky

… an impressive and affecting depiction of the Russia of the 1960s and 1970s seen through the prism of today … Early on, it seemed as though this might be a book on Russia and the demon drink – a perfectly legitimate theme. Then Dudko takes centre-stage. In the end, the book tries to be about both, and does not wholly succeed.

19/04/2013

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