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The Last Man in Russia: The Struggle to Save…

The Last Man in Russia: The Struggle to Save a Dying Nation (2013)

by Oliver Bullough

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The Last Man in Russia is a riveting history of Russia, played out in the present. The unfortunate situation in the Crimea has brought new focus on Russia, whose actions and motivations seem at times to be completely divorced from reality. But there is a reason for everything, and much of Russia's reasoning remains rooted in its recent Soviet past.

The book focuses on the story of Fr. Dmitry Dudko, who rose from an obscure village at the end of the Second World War to become one of the Soviet Union's most famous dissenters of the 1960s and 70s. Bullough, a journalist by profession, attempts to piece together Dudko's life by visiting the places he lived and talking to those who knew him. In the process he also shares his experiences of modern Russia, of a people drink themselves to death and who die in far greater numbers than they are born. While Moscow grows, village after village shrinks out of existence. What could cause such a state? And how does it relate to Fr. Dudko's legacy? At a time when iit seems like Russia is slipping back to the Soviet mindset, these are important questions and Bullough's answers are both sobering and hopeful at the same time.

A must read for anyone with an interest in Russia today. The only thing it really needs is a map. Highly, highly recommended. ( )
  inge87 | Mar 14, 2014 |
Oliver Bullough has written a fascinating book about the current population decline in Russia that endangers the future of the country. Using the life of one man, Father Dmitry Dudko, as a metaphor for what has happened in the country, the author traces the priest's rise and fall. The high rate of alcohol abuse, the low birth rate, and the destruction of freedoms by the KGB are the main contributors to the current crisis in which Russia finds itself. Except for the largest cities, the country's population is shrinking rapidly with entire villages abandoned and their buildings collapsing. The books ends on a hopeful note that a new generation of socially aware and informed citizens will effect change so that Russia can once again become a great nation. Very interesting reading! ( )
1 vote khiemstra631 | May 18, 2013 |
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Misha, a journalist friend, rang me around noon on 1 January 2004.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0465074987, Hardcover)

Russia is dying from within. Oligarchs and oil barons may still dominate international news coverage, but their prosperity masks a deep-rooted demographic tragedy. Faced with staggering population decline—and near-certain economic collapse—driven by toxic levels of alcohol abuse, Russia is also battling a deeper sickness: a spiritual one, born out of the country’s long totalitarian experiment.

In The Last Man in Russia, award-winning journalist Oliver Bullough uses the tale of a lone priest to give life to this national crisis. Father Dmitry Dudko, a dissident Orthodox Christian, was thrown into a Stalinist labor camp for writing poetry. Undaunted, on his release in the mid-1950s he began to preach to congregations across Russia with little concern for his own safety. At a time when the Soviet government denied its subjects the prospect of advancement, and turned friend against friend and brother against brother, Dudko urged his followers to cling to hope. He maintained a circle of sacred trust at the heart of one of history’s most deceitful systems. But as Bullough reveals, this courageous group of believers was eventually shattered by a terrible act of betrayal—one that exposes the full extent of the Communist tragedy. Still, Dudko’s dream endures. Although most Russians have forgotten the man himself, the embers of hope that survived the darkness are once more beginning to burn.

Leading readers from a churchyard in Moscow to the snow-blanketed ghost towns of rural Russia, and from the forgotten graves of Stalin’s victims to a rock festival in an old gulag camp, The Last Man in Russia is at once a travelogue, a sociological study, a biography, and a cri de coeur for a dying nation—one that, Bullough shows, might yet be saved.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:48 -0400)

Examines the economic collapse, declining populations, and alcohol-related abuses that the author believes are indicative of Russia's communism-related decline, as the author follows the life of a dissident Orthodox priest, Father Dimitry Dudko.

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