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Just Send Me Word: A True Story of Love and Survival in the Gulag (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 22. Mai 2012


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Produktbeschreibungen

Pressestimmen

"An enchanting marvel that reacquaints our technologically sophisticated but verbally deficient world with the power of the epistle to sustain love in the most trying of circumstances...A gem of a book." --The Boston Globe
 
"Timely and important...What gives Just Send Me Word its power is the intimate, granular detail of Gulag life, of how men and women attempted to create a semblance of normality in the most abnormal of circumstances."--The Daily Beast
 
"A heroic, absolutely astounding love story." --Minneapolis Star-Tribune
 
"Wonderful...Just Send Me Word blends Gulag and sentiment in its loftiest application into a “you- can’t- put- it- down” book and Orlando Figes, a modern master of Russian cultural history, brings off a worthy successor to Natasha’s Dance." --Washington Independent Review of Books
 
"A remarkable love story intertwined with a rare glimpse into a harsh chapter of Soviet history."--Christian Science Monitor
 
"Drawing on more than 1,200 letters between Lev and Svetlana “Sveta” Mishchenko, and interviews with the couple, veteran historian Figes tells a remarkable tale of love and devotion during the worst years of the USSR...His fine narrative pacing enhances this moving, memorable story." --Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
 
"A heart-rending record of extraordinary human endurance." --Kirkus Reviews

“A book to astonish readers:  never before has Stalin’s Gulag been the setting for a love affair.  This powerful narrative by a distinguished historian will take its place not just in history but in literature.”--Robert K. Massie, author of Catherine the Great

"Orlando Figes, a serious scholar who can reach wide general audiences, has done it again...An engaging portrait of a revealing and intimate relationship within almost unimaginable conditions." --History Book Club

 
 

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Orlando Figes is the author of The Crimean War, The Whisperers, Natasha's Dance, and A People's Tragedy, which have been translated into more than twenty languages. The recipient of the Wolfson History Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, among others, Figes is a professor of history at Birkbeck College, University of London.


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Amazon.com: 27 Rezensionen
15 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
'One must learn to be able to live in this world, which will probably always remain cruel' 23. Mai 2012
Von Lost John - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Lev Glebovich Mishchenko and his wife Svetlana Aleksandrovna are buried side by side in Moscow's Golovinskoe Cemetery. Both were born in 1917, the year of the Russian Revolution, and both outlived the Soviet Union, Lev dying in 2008 and Svetlana in 2010. The quotation above is taken from a letter Svetlana wrote to Lev in 1947, the greater part of a year after she discovered that her pre-war sweetheart was alive but serving a ten year sentence in a GULAG prison camp.

Pre-war, Lev trained as a nuclear physicist. During the war he was a Red Army officer. Captured by the Germans, liberated by Americans, he was offered passage to the United States, but chose repatriation to Russia. Like thousands of other returning Prisoners of War, he was - on the basis of a false 'confession' of treason against the motherland - sentenced in 1946 to death, commuted to ten years in the camps.

But for a period when Moscow was evacuated, Svetlana had meanwhile remained in her native city. She too was a physicist, and she made a career in a research laboratory attached to the tire industry. Because her work was considered militarily sensitive, it took outstanding determination and moral courage to respond to letters from a political prisoner. She was short of neither.

The letters began in July 1946 and continued to November 1954. So that each would know if they had received all that had been sent, Lev and Svetlana numbered their letters, which over the years amounted in total to 1246, 647 from Lev, 599 from Svetlana. Remarkably, none were censored (though all were self-censored as they were written and various codes employed) and all survived, to be handed eventually to Memorial in Moscow, an international historical and civil rights society operating in several post-Soviet states. It was through Memorial that Orlando Figes became aware of the letters and Lev and Svetlana's remarkable story, and he was fortunate to be able to meet and interview them both whilst they were still alive.

Through the letters, with supplementary information from the interviews and other sources, Figes takes us chronologically through Lev and Svetlana's whole story. Although it is also much more, it is fundamentally a love story. Not, of course, that true love always ran smooth, but each was very firm in their love for the other, and determined eventually to marry.

As readers, we gain new insights into life in Stalin's Russia and a view of a prison camp that, although close to the Arctic Circle, was on the European side of the Urals, and in which Lev was able to secure a position as an electrical engineer that was at least potentially survivable. In other words, the book provides a different perspective from those of Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and Shalamov's Kolyma Tales and complements rather than competes with those classics.

Most remarkable of all is that Svetlana five times managed to visit Lev at the camp. The first visit in particular provides exciting reading. There are other high points too, and Figes makes good use of such photographs as are available, along with relevant camp records and descriptions drawn from other sources.
10 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Just Send Me Word 23. Mai 2012
Von S Riaz - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This is the moving story of the love affair between Lev and Sveta, who first met while taking the entrance exam at Moscow University in 1935 and only ended with their death in old age. What makes this story extraordinary is that they were kept apart, first by WWII and then by Lev's sentence to ten years in a Gulag on his return to the Soviet Union. During all these years, they kept their love alive by infrequent, and often perilous, meetings and thousands of letters. What makes the letters even more important, is that they were often smuggled into and out of the camp, avoiding the censors and making them a fascinating record of life both within the Gulag itself and in state controlled Moscow during the years of the Cold War.

Both Lev and Sveta seemed to be very sensible people; when they first met they were studying physics, which Sveta continued to work in for most of her life and they were both careful not to burden each other with negative feelings during their time apart. During the war Sveta found herself evacuated, along with her colleages, so they could continue their work away from the front lines. Meanwhile, Lev was taken prisoner and, at the end of the war was sent on a death march from Buchenwald. Forced into a force confession he then found himself sentenced to ten years in a Gulag near the Artic Circle. From 1946 until his release in 1954 his life was that of a prisoner. At first he was unsure about whether to contact Sveta or not, not even sure that she was still alive and unwilling to pressurise her with his feelings when he was a prisoner. However, it was clear from the start that Sveta still loved him - even though they had not seen each other for five years.

What follows is an extraordinary relationship, where Lev literally lived through her letters. Eventually, Sveta wondered why, "if letters couldn't be smuggled in, why couldn't she?" and there begins the first of many desperate attempts to visit him, against the odds and many difficulties. Over the years their meetings were fleeting and few, but their letters were far more than the one censored letter allowed a month. She sustained him, while he attempted to keep his self-esteem, and she longed to have a child and a normal life.

This book takes us through the Cold War. The problems faced not only by Lev, but also by Sveta - as Soviet scientists were under immense pressure and she suffered depression and the feeling her life was slipping away. Meanwhile, we read of how Lev and his fellow prisoners coped with the Gulag - as security increased or declined and prisoners were threatened with Siberia. This takes us through the death of Stalin and the changes that came about because of this. However, this book is not really concerned with politics - both Lev and Sveta were either too careful to discuss politics openly, or more interested in other matters, but this is the story of a personal relationship in troubling and tumultuous times. As the record of a love story it is an incredible and moving testament to the human spirit and a privilege to read. As Lev wrote, "let us hope, while we still have strength to hope."
9 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
One of the Most Beautiful Books I've Ever Read! 4. Juni 2012
Von Meanwhile, Melinda - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This was the most beautiful book that I've ever read. It's nonfiction, and tells the greatest love story since Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. And this one has a happily ever after, but they had to earn it. It all takes place in Russia. This is the story of Svetlana and Lev. First they were separated when he became a soldier in WWII when the German's invaded. Then he got captured and was out of touch for about five years. The next thing Svetlana knew he was MIA. About a year later his Aunt Olga comes to see her with a letter from Lev! He's alive! But he's been sentenced to ten years in the gulag, Pechora as an enemy of the state under military heading, which is about as bad as it can can get for a political prisoner. Svetlana instantly writes to Lev, which starts a correspondence of 1246 letters back and forth between the two of them. She tries to support him, show him how much she loves him, and keep him in contact with the outside world in Moscow. He tries to raise her spirits (she has depression), show her he loves and misses her, and tries to convince her that life in the camps is not as bad as it really is. At first their letters go through censors, so Svetlana tells Lev - I love you, by saying something like, I have three words to tell you, two are pronouns, one's a verb. The verb is the most important. Finally they find a way around the censors and can speak more freely, but still codewords such as umbrella for gulag and initials for people continue in their letters. Lev feels closest to Svetlana when he is looking at the sky because it is the same sky that she sees. I think it is perfectly summed up in the poem at the front of the book which follows:

Black and enduring separation
I share equally with you.
Why weep? Give me your hand.
Promise me you will come again.
You and I are like high mountains
And we cannot move closer.
Just send me word
At midnight sometime through the stars.
Anna Akhmatova, 'In dream' (1946)

And while there are no wild passionate love letters, it is so fundamentally clear that the love these two have is rock solid and forever, the kind of love that could move mountains, the kind that you wish for your children, the kind these days that is too rare, and is sad all by itself. I am lucky myself to have found true love. After twenty seven years and two kids, a lot of trauma, he's still the love of my life and I can't see that changing. Maybe that's why this story resonated with me so much. Love isn't showy, it isn't flashy, it's quiet, it's comforting, it's solid, and it's always there.

The only thing Lev waxes lyrical about is nature; the aurora borealis, a beautiful sunset on trees, the beginning of spring. And yet when they show their love for one another, the words may not be lyrical, but their passionate love for one another comes shining through like a light in the dark. It is clear that they love each other and will wait for Lev's sentence to be over, if not longer, if need be. They would wait until the end of time if that is what it took.

The author, Orlando Figes, does a magnificent job of telling the story of Svetlana and Lev, from the the first day they met in college until the present. He turns those 1246 letters, plus some other research materials into a narrative that is quite easy to follow and gives a very good picture of Stalinist Russia in the '40s and '50s. He turned a pack of letters into the most beautiful book I've ever read. Mr. Figes, I want to thank you for doing such an incredible job of research and writing. You have put together a masterpiece! I also want to thank Goodreads First Reads where I won this book - I feel so fortunate that you picked me. A thousand times thank you. I can't think of a better book to win.

I would recommend this book to anyone who speaks English. There are so many life lessons here. There is so much history here. There is so much about love that has been forgotten. It is snapshot of life from a society alien to ours, yet people are people, alike in so many ways. This book should be on every bookshelf from California to Maine. This deserves to become a classic and win a prestigious award like the Nobel Peace Prize so that everyone will read it. JUST BUY IT AND READ IT! That's a direct order from someone who's read thousands of books and knows what they are talking about. This one is very special - you'll see.
5 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Gulag Romance Through Love letters Type Book. 27. August 2012
Von Tommy Dooley - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This is another book by the renowned Russophile Orlando Figes (`Crimea', Natasha's dance' and `A Peoples Tragedy' all good to excellent) and I was hoping for the same for this one. It relates the story of a love affair that was carried on whilst Lev was imprisoned for ten years as a political prisoner in Siberia. They wrote letters to each other all the time and got them out past the guards so as to avoid the censorship of Stalin's regime.

Svetlana was split up from Lev after World War II broke out, he was captured by the Germans and agreed to do translation work for them, and it was for that collaboration that he was sentenced to ten years in the gulag. She meanwhile finally got a letter from him after not hearing from him for five years and so the spark of love was rekindled and their correspondence brought them back together.

Whilst this is basically a love story in letters it is also a piece of history in that this is the biggest archive of first hand life in a gulag. Lev was luckier than most as he had some scientific background and that meant that he was able to secure less physically demanding work than some of his co prisoners. We do get to hear about some of the treatment of the inmates and the attitude of the guards and authorities but mostly the letters contain the story of their emotions and the ups and downs that took place between them over such a long period with mere moments together that were so hard fought for it is amazing they actually did it.

We also have a glimpse into the mind sets of both of them Lev was clearly homophobic thought it was a good idea to beat sense into children and seemed to accept his fate as being an unwitting traitor to the USSR. Svet did not mind breaking the rules to get what she wanted whilst at the same time rejoicing in Stalinist architecture and looking down on people who were not fascinated by science. These of course must be taken as being `of their time' and as such is more than forgivable. There are moments of true philanthropy mixed in as well as true love, sacrifice and comradeship. They could never have done all of what they did without the help of others and they seem to have repaid that in spade fulls. There are also pictures from the actual camp and some up to date ones as well as some very informative maps which all add to the story.

So why three stars? Well I just found it a bit plodding and repetitive, as a lot of the book concerns quotes from their letters they are all very personal and limited in scope so what I thought might be an insider's expose of the gulag system became more of a Mills and Boonski without the sex. Sorry if I am being harsh it just did not rock my world. That said I will always read any offering by the very talented Mr Figes.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A heart-wrenching tale about love and survival 19. Juli 2012
Von The Curious Dame - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
When he was a child, Bolshevik revolutionary's killed Lev Mischenko's parents in Siberia. Raised by his grandmother, Lev became a physicist and while at university, he met and fell in love with Svetlana. When World War II began, before they could marry, he joined the army to battle the Nazi's. During one particular battle, he was captured and imprisoned in concentration camps. Mischenko tried to escape, but failed. His face was added to the millions of Soviets already in custody. Fortunately, he survived when millions of others died. Accused of spying, he was sent to the Gulag, one of the most brutal Siberian prison camps. Over the next nine years, Lev and Svetlana exchanged hundreds of letters. On occasion, she was allowed to visit him. He remained in prison until 1954. After Stalin's death, he was among the hundreds of thousands of prisoners who were released.

Just Send Me Word is a non-fictional recounting of Lev and Svetlana's lives in the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution. Decades later, the nearly 1500 letters were discovered in a trunk - carefully preserved, and ready to tell their dramatic story, of a great love separated, and the conditions Soviets suffered during the Stalin years.

This book is a shocking revelation about the harsh conditions and the tens of millions of lives lost because of the Soviet Communists. Hunger, poverty, and illness were rampant. Despite all this, love proved true between Lev and his wife who waited so long for his release. Their love for each other and the miracle of human endurance is becomes evident in the letters as the couple bolsters each other in the harshest of conditions. It gives an accurate, first hand glimpse into the suffering of the Russian people and their suffering during the 20th century. Highly recommended and with appeal to those who love romance as well as a good war story.
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