Russia has fascinated writers from times immemorial.
Voltaire exchanged quite a copious correspondence with Catherine the Great, whom he called the “Semiramis of the North” and whose authoritarian style he celebrated as much as he admired her war on the Turks.
21st century writers also fall for Russia. The last four books I read gave me an even bigger appreciation of the phenomenon since out of the four authors, two are not Russians: Sam Eastland and James Meek (but Meek has lived in USSR and then the new Russia), David Benioff has a Russian grandfather and the last one, Alina Bronsky, is a Russian “émigré” of the most recent Western Europe-bound immigration wave after the fall of Communism.
Sam Eastland and James Meek tackle the first part of the XX century in USSR. The most fascinating story within Russian history remains the Romanov Drama. Murdered by the Bolsheviks, the Imperial Family laid in the depth of a mining well somewhere outside Ekaterinenburg for decades. Until they were finally unearthed and identified thanks to DNA after the fall of communism, one was never sure of what had really happened to them, especially to the youngest children, Anastasia and the hemophiliac heir to the throne, Alexei Nicolaievitch.
To be continued: David Benioff, City of Thieves and Alina Bronsky, Broken Glass Park