Stalin's Children by Owen Matthews

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On a mid-summer day in 1937, a car pulled up to the house of the Bibikov family in Chernigov in the heart of the Ukraine. Boris, the father, kissed his two daughters and wife goodbye and disappeared inside the car. His family never saw him again. His wife would later vanish, leaving the young Lyudmila and Lenina alone to drift across the vast Russian landscape as the Wehrmacht advanced in WWII. In the early 1960s Owen Matthews' father, Mervyn, moved to Moscow to work for the British embassy after a childhood in Wales dreaming of Russia. He fell in with the KGB, and in love with Lyudmila, and before he could disentangle himself from the former he was ordered to leave the country. For the next six years, Mervyn tried desperately to get Lyudmila out of Russia, and when he finally succeeded they married. Decades on from these events, their son, now Newsweek's bureau chief in Moscow, pieces together the tangled threads of his family's past and present-the extraordinary files that record the life and death of his grandfather at the hands of Stalin's secret police; his mother's and aunt's perilous journey to adulthood; his parents' Cold War love affair and the magnet that has drawn him back to the Russia-to present an indelible portrait of the country over the past seven decades and an unforgettable memoir about how we struggle to define ourselves in opposition to our ancestry only to find ourselves aligning with it.

About Owen Matthews

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Owen Matthews was born in London and spent part of his childhood in America. He studied Modern History at Oxford University before beginning his career as a journalist in Bosnia. In 1995 he accepted a job at The Moscow Times, a daily English-language newspaper. He also freelanced for a number of publications including the Times, the Spectator and the Independent. In 1997, he became a correspondent at Newsweek magazine in Moscow where he covered the second Chechen war, as well as politics and society. Owen was also one of the first journalists to witness the start of the U.S. bombing in the Panjshir Valley in Afghanistan, 2001, and went on to cover the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Owen is currently Newsweek's bureau chief in Moscow, where he lives with his wife and two children.
Published July 23, 2010 by Walker Books. 320 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Stalin's Children

The New York Times

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An English journalist’s memoir of Russia -- and his Russian ancestors.

Nov 23 2008 | Read Full Review of Stalin's Children

The Guardian

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And so they spilled their souls out onto paper reams of paper, impregnated with pain, desire and love, chains of paper, relays of it, rumbling through the night on mail trains across Europe almost without interruption for six years.

Aug 28 2008 | Read Full Review of Stalin's Children

The Guardian

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She had been in one of Stalin's prison camps for 11 years, during which time her daughters - Lenina (sic) and Lyudmila, Matthews's mother, who only narrowly escaped being named Stalina - had fended for themselves, sometimes together, sometimes apart, for a while in institutions, often simply roam...

Jul 25 2008 | Read Full Review of Stalin's Children

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