SOCIAL SCIENCES

Young Heroes of the Soviet Union: A Memoir and a Reckoning

Random. Mar. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781400067060. $28. BIOG
COPY ISBN
In the ultimate act of self-retrospection, Halberstadt (Lonely Avenue) investigates his identity by traveling to Russia, his country of birth, to interview family and document the horrifying effects of the world wars. When the author learns that his grandfather is alive, but ostracized because of “unmentionable things” committed as a personal bodyguard of Joseph Stalin, Haberstadt develops a project to uncover secret histories and their reverberation through the generations. Traveling through Russia and Lithuania, Halberstadt visits his father, grandparents, and other distant relatives. The history of Jewish relatives in Lithuania suffering waves of pogroms is contrasted against his paternal grandfather’s conscription into the Soviet army and service for Stalin. Such a personal history stands apart from other titles because, although the journey is framed as a family narrative, historically detailed episodes are impressively illuminated. Particularly commendable is the archival research on Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital.
VERDICT An impeccably executed and unique genealogy that encourages us to examine the history that informs us of who we are.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?

We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing

ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?