Book Review: Breaking Stalin’s Nose, by Eugene Yelchin

Breaking Stalin’s Nose, by Eugene Yelchin


Saw this book on the new-books-for-kids table at the local library, and it looked unusual enough that I picked it up and checked it out. The story covers 2 days in the life of Sasha Zaichik, a boy who lives in Russia sometime during the Stalin era.

Far too little attention has been paid–by academics, the film industry, and the media in general–to the crimes committed in the name of Communism. Claire Berlinski, in her post a hidden history of evil, notes the astonishing lack on interest in copies of secret Kremlin archives that have been smuggled out of Russia. “I offer them free of charge to the most influential newspapers and journals in the world, but nobody wants to print them,” says one former Soviet dissident. “Editors shrug indifferently: So what? Who cares?”

So I applaud Eugene Yelchin for writing this book, Henry Holt & Co for publishing it, and the American Library Association for giving it a Newberry Honor award.

Sasha is 10 years old, devoted to Communism and to his father, who works as an official of the secret police. He has finally reached the age at which he is eligible to become a member of the Young Pioneers, and is looking forward to the ceremony at which he will receive the red scarf signifying his membership in this organization.

Then his father is arrested…

A quick and gripping read, with illustrations by the author.

Yelchin has a synopsis of the book, with background information and photos, on his website. Link here.

6 thoughts on “Book Review: <em>Breaking Stalin’s Nose</em>, by Eugene Yelchin”

  1. Dt Zhivago was not merely a love story. It was a political statement that was anti-communist. Hollywood stripped off the politics, wrote a very pretty lullaby and gave us a soothing love story.

    I suspect that soviet agents penetrated more than just the DoD, the CIA and the FBI. I suspect they also penetrated the Times (all of them), WaPo, the networks and the universities. After all, these are the places where socialist revolutionaries fit in best and feel most at home. After that they became staffers on congressional committees.

  2. This seems remarkably similar to the fictional book “Sashenka” by Simon Montefiore. Sashenka’s father is a Jewish businessman who gets arrested by Stalin.

  3. One wonders under Stalin, and even Khrushchev and Brezhev how a Dr Zhivago or One day In The Life…

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