The Black Russian by Vladimir Alexandrov

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Drawing upon an abundance of sources ranging from government documents to periodicals to personal travelogues, Alexandrov recounts how Thomas’ unquenchable wanderlust inspired him to start traveling around the United States...
-Star Tribune

Synopsis

The Black Russian is the incredible true story of Frederick Bruce Thomas, born in 1872 to former slaves who became prosperous farmers in Mississippi. After his father was brutally murdered, Frederick left the South and worked as a waiter in Chicago and Brooklyn. Seeking greater freedom, he traveled to London, then crisscrossed Europe, and—in a highly unusual choice for a black American at the time—went to Russia.

Because he found no color line there, Frederick settled in Moscow, becoming a rich and famous owner of variety theaters and restaurants. When the Bolshevik Revolution ruined him, he barely escaped to Constantinople, where he made another fortune by opening celebrated nightclubs as the "Sultan of Jazz." However, the long arm of American racism, the xenophobia of the new Turkish Republic, and Frederick’s own extravagance landed him in debtor’s prison. He died in Constantinople in 1928.
 

About Vladimir Alexandrov

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Vladimir Alexandrov received a Ph. D. in comparative literature from Princeton. He taught Russian literature and culture at Harvard before moving to Yale, where he is B.E. Bensinger Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures. He is the author of books on Bely, Nabokov, and Tolstoy, and has published numerous articles on various other Russian writers and topics.
 
Published March 5, 2013 by Atlantic Monthly Press. 342 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction
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Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Kim Hedges on Apr 02 2013

Drawing upon an abundance of sources ranging from government documents to periodicals to personal travelogues, Alexandrov recounts how Thomas’ unquenchable wanderlust inspired him to start traveling around the United States...

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