In this “urgent and enthralling reckoning with family and history” (Andrew Solomon), an American writer returns to Russia to face a family history that still haunts him. Can trauma be inherited? It is this question that sets Alex Halberstadt off on a quest to name and acknowledge a legacy of family trauma and to end a century-old cycle of estrangement. His search takes him across the troubled, enigmatic land of his birth. In Ukraine, he tracks down his paternal grandfather — most likely the last living bodyguard of Joseph Stalin — to reckon with the ways in which decades of Soviet totalitarianism shaped three generations of his family. He visits Lithuania, his Jewish mother’s home, to examine the legacy of the Holocaust and pernicious antisemitism that remains largely unaccounted for. And he returns to his birthplace, Moscow, to explore his own story, which eventually brought him, an immigrant, to New York. As he traces the fragile boundary between history and biography, Halberstadt comes to realize something more: Nations, like people, possess formative traumas that penetrate into the most private recesses of their citizens’ lives.
Young Heroes of the Soviet Union: A Memoir and a Reckoning
- From the Publisher
September 1, 2019
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