The Last Man in Russia by Oliver Bullough
The Struggle to Save a Dying Nation

75%

6 Critic Reviews

Fortunately, treating readers to a sermon on Russia's dysfunctionality is only part of what Bullough has in mind. The homily is accompanied by an exemplum: an account of the life of Father Dmitry Dudko...Orthodox priest of the 1960s and 1970s
-Guardian

Synopsis

Russia is dying from within. Oligarchs and oil barons may still dominate international news coverage, but their prosperity masks a deep-rooted demographic tragedy. Faced with staggering population decline—and near-certain economic collapse—driven by toxic levels of alcohol abuse, Russia is also battling a deeper sickness: a spiritual one, born out of the country’s long totalitarian experiment.

In The Last Man in Russia, award-winning journalist Oliver Bullough uses the tale of a lone priest to give life to this national crisis. Father Dmitry Dudko, a dissident Orthodox Christian, was thrown into a Stalinist labor camp for writing poetry. Undaunted, on his release in the mid-1950s he began to preach to congregations across Russia with little concern for his own safety. At a time when the Soviet government denied its subjects the prospect of advancement, and turned friend against friend and brother against brother, Dudko urged his followers to cling to hope. He maintained a circle of sacred trust at the heart of one of history’s most deceitful systems. But as Bullough reveals, this courageous group of believers was eventually shattered by a terrible act of betrayal—one that exposes the full extent of the Communist tragedy. Still, Dudko’s dream endures. Although most Russians have forgotten the man himself, the embers of hope that survived the darkness are once more beginning to burn.

Leading readers from a churchyard in Moscow to the snow-blanketed ghost towns of rural Russia, and from the forgotten graves of Stalin’s victims to a rock festival in an old gulag camp, The Last Man in Russia is at once a travelogue, a sociological study, a biography, and a cri de coeur for a dying nation—one that, Bullough shows, might yet be saved.
 

About Oliver Bullough

See more books from this Author
Oliver Bullough is Caucasus editor for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting and author of Let Our Fame Be Great, which won the Overseas Press Club Cornelius Ryan Award. He lives in London.
 
Published April 30, 2013 by Basic Books. 298 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Travel. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Last Man in Russia
All: 6 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Ellen Barry on Jun 07 2013

He has unearthed a story of remarkable relevance for today: about the man who walked out of Lefortovo Prison with his hatred of a disintegrating system transformed into a hatred of us.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Catriona Kelly on Jun 07 2013

Fortunately, treating readers to a sermon on Russia's dysfunctionality is only part of what Bullough has in mind. The homily is accompanied by an exemplum: an account of the life of Father Dmitry Dudko...Orthodox priest of the 1960s and 1970s

Read Full Review of The Last Man in Russia: The S... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Anthony Sattin on Apr 13 2013

...a lively, well-written and commanding narrative to guide us.

Read Full Review of The Last Man in Russia: The S... | See more reviews from Guardian

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by PHILIP SHISHKIN on May 28 2013

He devotes significant ink to describing how cold and snowy Russia is and to his own efforts to dress warmly. Mr. Bullough's case against Russias' penchant for drink is weakened by his own frequent imbibing...

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Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by Charles Clover on May 03 2013

At times the narratives of alcoholism, demographic decline and the Orthodox church seem a bit too convoluted to blend seamlessly, yet the book works in an odd way.

Read Full Review of The Last Man in Russia: The S... | See more reviews from Financial Times

The Economist

Good
on Jun 01 2013

Mr Bullough largely succeeds in using this sad tale as a metaphor for the fate of the Soviet Union.

Read Full Review of The Last Man in Russia: The S... | See more reviews from The Economist

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