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Tangled Loyalties, Tangled Loyalties, 0817309632, 0-8173-0963-2, 978-0-8173-0963-3, 9780817309633,

Tangled Loyalties
The Life and Times of Ilya Ehrenburg
by Joshua Rubenstein

Quality Paper
1999. 512 pp.
978-0-8173-0963-3
Price:  $39.95 s

Rubenstein uncovers the man behind the controversies, the gifted writer whose life embodied all the tragic dilemmas of a Russian Jewish intellectual under totalitarianism.

 
Journalist, novelist, and poet Ilya Ehrenburg (1891-1967) was one of the most important Russian cultural figures of the 20th century. A political exile from czarist Russia, he spent years in Paris as a bohemian poet and later became a correspondent for Izvestia in Western Europe. He was one of the few distinguished Soviet writers to survive Stalin. Ehrenburg’s 1954 novel The Thaw lent its name to the critical period following Stalin’s death. His memoir People, Years, Life outraged the Kremlin in the 1960s by describing a “conspiracy of silence” that had prevailed under the dictator.
Ehrenburg was a young Bolshevik who turned anti-Communist and then two decades later became a spokesman for Stalin. He was an assimilated Jew who fought anti-Semitism and a Russian patriot who was both mistrusted by orthodox Communists and denounced by Hitler as his main enemy. As a Jew, he was said to have betrayed his people; as a writer, his talent; as a man, his conscience. Yet, as Joshua Rubenstein shows, Ehrenburg retained a measure of integrity. He helped other writers, including Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, and Boris Pasternak. He battled censorship and championed European art in Moscow. His circle of friends included Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Diego Rivera, Ernest Hemingway, Isaac Babel, and André Malraux.
In vivid detail, Tangled Loyalties draws extensively on new material from Russian archives, from Ehrenburg’s private correspondence, and from interviews with scores of family members and friends. This penetrating biography will challenge our assumptions about collaboration, assimilation, dissent, and moral survival.

Joshua Rubenstein is the Northeast Regional Director of Amnesty International USA and an Associate at the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard University. He has written for The Nation, The New Republic, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times, among other publications.


“A convincing, judicious, and enjoyable biography.” –New York Times Book Review

 


“A solid and eloquent work.” –New Republic

 


“Finding a good subject is a biographer’s first hurdle, and in choosing Ilya Ehrenburg, Joshua Rubenstein flew right over the bar.” –Dissent


“For those seeking to grasp the terrible moral dilemmas of intellectuals living under a ruthless totalitarianism and who accepted its fundamental ideological thrust, this meticulously researched work is indispensable.” –Hadassah


“Prodigious research, along with important interviews with a hundred of Ehrenburg’s contemporaries and their children, make this the freshest and the most complete Ehrenburg biography to date.” –Russian Review


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