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The Education of a Traitor: A Memoir of…
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The Education of a Traitor: A Memoir of Growing Up in Cold War Russia (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 2015; vuoden 2015 painos)

– tekijä: Svetlana Grobman, Jenny McDonald (Toimittaja)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut
1241,277,827 (5)-
Svetlana (Sveta) Grobman grew up in a communal apartment in Moscow, Russia, during the Cold War with her mother, father and younger sister. From a very young age, she found herself living in two contradictory worlds: the private world of a Jewish family struggling to live a decent life in a society rife with shortages and anti-Semitism; and the public world of an oppressive totalitarian regime that brainwashed its citizen into believing that the Soviet Union was the best country in the world.Despite being constantly bullied and insulted by playmates, neighbors, and teachers, Sveta was a dreamer. In the confinement of her cramped apartment, with a book in her hands, she dreamt about doing something significant for her country to earn its love and respect. Yet as Sveta matured and learned about the persecution of her family and the tragic deaths of her Ukrainian relatives during WWII, she realized that the world around her was built on lies and corruption, and that she needed to be strong just to survive.Composed of a series of poignant and sometimes humorous stories, The Education of a Traitor is a luminous memoir that not only describes the experience of one Jewish child coming of age in Russia at the height of the Cold War, but also helps explain why millions of people chose to leave the Soviet Union when the Iron Curtain finally fell.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:svetlanagrobman
Teoksen nimi:The Education of a Traitor: A Memoir of Growing Up in Cold War Russia
Kirjailijat:Svetlana Grobman
Muut tekijät:Jenny McDonald (Toimittaja)
Info:Musings Publishing (March 15, 2015), Edition: 1, Paperback, 308 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):*****
Avainsanoja:biographies and memoirs, coming of age, historical, Europe, Russia, Jews

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The Education of a Traitor: A Memoir of Growing Up in Cold War Russia (tekijä: Svetlana Grobman) (2015)

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näyttää 4/4
First, let me just say that I could not put the book down - and it's not just a figure of speech, I really was coming back to it every free moment I had. From the start, I was swept away by the story told by this precocious youngster. The matter-of-fact tone, coupled with sober naivete and with a good measure of self-deprecating sense of humor took me by surprise, a subdued and serious "wow" kind of surprise. I could relate to a lot of it (growing up at that same time in the Soviet Union), yet some of it was an alarming and disconcerting news to me - which just shows how much some of us didn't know about the treatment of Jews in those days. I felt overwhelmed by the fact how well Svetlana Grobman remembers her childhood, with all its milestones, with its understandable rebellion against her parents - trying to fathom the harsh realities of Soviet life as it related to her Jewish heritage, trying to delve into the forbidden history by questioning her grandparents; how her eyes slowly open and she perceives the seemingly unperceivable.

Even before I opened the book, its title jumped at me: the word "traitor" is so infused with potent meaning - we were all traitors if we decided to leave Soviet Union, for it was drilled into us that we were given free education and thus had to "repay" the country by never leaving... But in Svetlana's case this word takes on a much more explicit significance. Many of the episodes in the book were so poignant that it made my heart ache. But one of the most delightful was the experience at the Concert Hall - loved it. The description of the Soviet hospital - another very true-to-fact (yet far from delightful) example. Svetlana Grobman seems to have a knack for cleverly pinpointing the essence of things. A moving memoir. Loved it. ( )
2 ääni Clara53 | Apr 7, 2015 |
The Education of a Traitor: A Memoir of Growing Up in Cold War Russia comes from a Russian Jewish immigrant to the U.S. who was born in Russia in 1951 and moved to America in 1990. It covers the period between these years, when she was an engineer and editor for the Soviet Encyclopedia, and intersperses the life lessons she gained from her family and culture with insights into cold war Russian society and sentiments.

Too many memoirs focus on the physical realities of escaping from one's world. Under such an approach it would have been all too easy for The Education of a Traitor to, itself, have become a linear memoir of a flight to a new life. But true freedom involves more than physical distance or escape: it's a vast adjustment that involves confronting and changing one's framework for perceiving reality itself; and it's here that this autobiography shines.

True, the USSR the author describes no longer exists. But that doesn't mean that the influence and specter of its operations don't remain active in the world, both in Grobman's life and in the wider arena of understanding social and political systems and their impact on ordinary lives. And as much as the author's memories are now frozen in the past, they also continue to hold perspective, insight, and influence on the future of both the reader (whether in the motherland or abroad) and the author.

After all - isn't that why autobiography remains an effective genre for describing not just individual lives and experiences, but wider questions of social and political evolution and even survival and freedom itself? Without truly understanding influence, motivation, perspective, and the effects of political systems on young hearts and minds, it's not possible to perceive the real threats to freedom in the world.

And thus The Education of a Traitor may be read on several different levels: either as a coming-of-age autobiography, or as a wider-ranging portrait of personal survival and growth. Either way, it's not about becoming a patriot and dying. It's about becoming free to live a full life. Exactly how this is achieved is the meat of a hard-hitting and involving story that delivers vignettes of change and survival using a powerful voice and a personal perspective that's hard to put down. ( )
1 ääni DDonovan | Mar 21, 2015 |
This review was written by the author.
KIRKUS REVIEWS

Grobman’s debut memoir explores her childhood in the Soviet Union.

The author was born into a Jewish family in Moscow in 1951, near the end of Josef Stalin’s reign. As a child, Grobman shared the experiences common to other urban Russians of her generation: overcrowded housing, summertime trips to dachas, enforced social conformity. From an early age, she escaped her Soviet reality by reading stories, beginning with folk tales about mythical figures such as Baba Yaga. When she began school, though, she was indoctrinated into the communist system. Portraits of Vladimir Lenin and Nikita Khrushchev hung on the classroom walls, alongside banners proclaiming, “Thank You Our Dear Communist Party for Our Happy Childhood!” Grobman initially accepted this dogma, but at the same time, she was aware that her family was different than their neighbors’; they were Jews in a society which didn’t tolerate ethnic minorities. Her family conversed in Yiddish at home but didn’t allow her to learn the language for fear that she would stand out and be persecuted. As Grobman entered her teenage years, her eyes began to open to her native country’s brutality and to the past traumas that her family suffered at the hands of both the Nazis and Stalin. Although history looms heavily in the background of the memoir, the author’s accounts of her young life are informed more by her day-to-day experiences with her family, school, and neighborhood than by the broader political situation. The book isn’t filled with drama; rather, most episodes focus on subtler problems arising from the daily indignities of communism, long-simmering family issues, and societal anti-Semitism. The prose is readable and familiar, creating an effect much like listening to a relative recount family stories. Each chapter functions as a stand-alone tale, depicting not only a moment in Grobman’s childhood, but also an aspect of Soviet life. Overall, although this memoir delivers few great revelations and breaks little new ground, it does provide a relatable, personal portrait of Jewish life in Soviet Moscow in the 1950s and ’60s.

An intimate look at a young woman’s struggle to find her own truth in a repressive society. ( )
Useat käyttäjät ovat merkinneet tämän arvostelun käyttöehtojen vastaiseksi eikä se ole enää näkyvissä (näytä arvostelu).
  svetlanagrobman | Mar 16, 2015 |
This review was written by the author.
KIRKUS REVIEW

Grobman’s debut memoir explores her childhood in the Soviet Union.

The author was born into a Jewish family in Moscow in 1951, near the end of Josef Stalin’s reign. As a child, Grobman shared the experiences common to other urban Russians of her generation: overcrowded housing, summertime trips to dachas, enforced social conformity. From an early age, she escaped her Soviet reality by reading stories, beginning with folk tales about mythical figures such as Baba Yaga. When she began school, though, she was indoctrinated into the communist system. Portraits of Vladimir Lenin and Nikita Khrushchev hung on the classroom walls, alongside banners proclaiming, “Thank You Our Dear Communist Party for Our Happy Childhood!” Grobman initially accepted this dogma, but at the same time, she was aware that her family was different than their neighbors’; they were Jews in a society which didn’t tolerate ethnic minorities. Her family conversed in Yiddish at home but didn’t allow her to learn the language for fear that she would stand out and be persecuted. As Grobman entered her teenage years, her eyes began to open to her native country’s brutality and to the past traumas that her family suffered at the hands of both the Nazis and Stalin. Although history looms heavily in the background of the memoir, the author’s accounts of her young life are informed more by her day-to-day experiences with her family, school, and neighborhood than by the broader political situation. The book isn’t filled with drama; rather, most episodes focus on subtler problems arising from the daily indignities of communism, long-simmering family issues, and societal anti-Semitism. The prose is readable and familiar, creating an effect much like listening to a relative recount family stories. Each chapter functions as a stand-alone tale, depicting not only a moment in Grobman’s childhood, but also an aspect of Soviet life. Overall, although this memoir delivers few great revelations and breaks little new ground, it does provide a relatable, personal portrait of Jewish life in Soviet Moscow in the 1950s and ’60s.

An intimate look at a young woman’s struggle to find her own truth in a repressive society. ( )
Useat käyttäjät ovat merkinneet tämän arvostelun käyttöehtojen vastaiseksi eikä se ole enää näkyvissä (näytä arvostelu).
  svetlanagrobman | Mar 2, 2015 |
näyttää 4/4
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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Svetlana (Sveta) Grobman grew up in a communal apartment in Moscow, Russia, during the Cold War with her mother, father and younger sister. From a very young age, she found herself living in two contradictory worlds: the private world of a Jewish family struggling to live a decent life in a society rife with shortages and anti-Semitism; and the public world of an oppressive totalitarian regime that brainwashed its citizen into believing that the Soviet Union was the best country in the world.Despite being constantly bullied and insulted by playmates, neighbors, and teachers, Sveta was a dreamer. In the confinement of her cramped apartment, with a book in her hands, she dreamt about doing something significant for her country to earn its love and respect. Yet as Sveta matured and learned about the persecution of her family and the tragic deaths of her Ukrainian relatives during WWII, she realized that the world around her was built on lies and corruption, and that she needed to be strong just to survive.Composed of a series of poignant and sometimes humorous stories, The Education of a Traitor is a luminous memoir that not only describes the experience of one Jewish child coming of age in Russia at the height of the Cold War, but also helps explain why millions of people chose to leave the Soviet Union when the Iron Curtain finally fell.

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