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City of Thieves

A Novel

Benioff, David

(Book - 2008)
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
City of Thieves
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Baker & Taylor
Documenting his grandparents' experiences during the siege of Leningrad, a young writer learns his grandfather's story about how a military deserter and he tried to secure pardons by gathering hard-to-find ingredients for a powerful colonel's daughter's wedding cake.

& Taylor

Documenting his reluctant grandparents' experiences during the infamous siege of Leningrad, a young writer learns his grandfather's story about how a military deserter and he endeavored to secure their pardons by gathering hard-to-find ingredients for a powerful colonel's daughter's wedding cake.

Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Viking, 2008
ISBN: 9780670018703
Branch Call Number: FIC B
Characteristics: 258 p. ; 24 cm.


From the critics

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Oct 20, 2014
  • WVMLStaffPicks rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Benioff describes his grandfather’s experiences during the siege of Leningrad, writing a vivid WWII survival tale with a fresh, contemporary tone and dose of humour. Accused of a petty theft, seventeen-year-old Lev meets Koyla, a deserter, while in the Crosses awaiting execution. However, the colonel’s daughter is getting married and, for a cake, must have eggs. If Lev and Koyla can bring back one dozen eggs—ostensibly an impossible task in starving Russia —they may live….

Sep 25, 2014
  • multcolib_rossb rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Before Benioff was a uber-successful writer and producer on the Game of Thrones TV series, he wrote books. Really great books! "City of Thieves" is fun, incredible, fast, and (weather-wise) frigid.

Mar 18, 2014
  • runfastread rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This is a dark tale of war, courage and survival.... not for the faint of heart.. .but so worth the read! It is about the siege of Leningrad during the second world war. Lev Beniov is a young Jewish teen, too young for the army, who works as a volunteer firefighter with friends from his building. When a dead German paratrooper lands in his street, Lev is caught looting and lands in jail... at that time, landing in jail for looting in a starving city under seige, it was a sure death sentence, but Lev is given a second chance along with Kolya, another prisoner,....together they set out to find a dozen eggs for a powerful colonel to use in his daughter's wedding cake. An impossible task but Lev and Kolya are willing to try... So well written and worth every minute reading!

Dec 26, 2013
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A rousing buddy adventure wrapped in a desperate, tragic setting. Amusing, entertaining, philosophical, eminently quotable, humane, and poignant; also, brutal, sad, grotesque, and dismaying. It's not the story of the siege of Leningrad in WWII, just a story of it, one in which the setting is essential for the way it defines the characters and their interactions--and, through them, readers come to understand the setting--yet really it's the story of a young man doing what he can to survive outrageous circumstances. It's a character story, describing a pivotal, defining week in 1942, the first week of the year, the week he met [his wife], made his best friend, and killed two Germans. He's a captivating character with a highly engaging story.
I just finished the book and already I want to read it again. I rarely, if ever, read books again. Something tells me I will this one.
"I could not handle the morning's peaks and valleys. One moment I thought I had a few minutes left to live; the next a sniper from Archangel was flirting with me. Was she flirting with me? The days had become a confusion of catastrophes; what seemed impossible in the afternoon was blunt fact by the evening. German corpses fell from the sky; cannibals sold sausage links made from ground human in the Haymarket; apartment blocs collapsed to the ground; dogs became bombs; frozen soldiers became signposts; a partisan with half a face stood swaying in the snow, staring sad-eyed at his killers. I had no food in my belly, no fat on my bones, and no energy to reflect on this parade of atrocities. I just kept moving, hoping to find another half slice of bread for myself and a dozen egg's for the colonel's daughter.
. . .
"Somewhere along the way I told her the true story of why Kolya and I had snuck out of Piter, crossed enemy lines, and eventually stumbled onto the farmhouse beneath the larches. . . . I told her about the colonel's daughter, skating on the Neva; the cannibals and their grisly wares hanging from the ceiling chains; the dying boy Vadim and his rooster, Darling; the antitank dog bleeding in the snow; and the dead Russian soldier rooted in the ice."
This just scratches the surface.

Oct 04, 2013
  • JCLKimG rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This historical fiction novel is difficult to put down. It has everything you'd want in a great read: friendship, sex, violence, insights about love and war, dark humor, and more. I recommend it for fans of wartime fiction, tomboys, and male teenagers.

Jul 12, 2013
  • silenceinwinter rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is actually one of my most favorite books of all time. I read it in two afternoons. Darkly comedic, tragic, and beautiful, this book really captures your attention and will make you laugh, cry, and smile.

Feb 18, 2013
  • BookEnthusiast rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This book held my interest and I couldn't put it down. It paints wonderfully the dire circumstances in Leningrad during WWII but balances it out nicely with the humorous antics of its characters. Great book!

Feb 06, 2013
  • Ataraxya rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This was a really great book to read. The imagery was very vivid, reading like a movie, fantastic atmosphere and all. It alternates between devastating and hilarious, and I'm still not over it.

Dec 17, 2012
  • iluvvideo rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Wartime. The good guys vs. The bad guys. Our guys vs. the enemy.
But what about life outside the actual battles. Does everything just stay a wartime version of routine? Or...

This story happens to two unlikely compatriots. One a 17 year old Jewish son of a 'politically disappeared' poet and the other a Red Army deserter in pursuit of female companionship.
Thrown together in The Crosses, a fortress like prison so ominous that its mere mention is enough to keep unruly children in line.Each deals with their sense of the coming doom in their own way, but both are certain of what awaits them come morning.

But once again fate has a hand to play and they are sent to see 'The Colonel'. This man, a grizzled veteran of the military offers the two a chance to earn their freedom. Remote yes, but a chance. They set off with a safe passage letter in their pocket to complete their task.

These two people, strangers the night before must depend on each other completely. They navigate through Leningrad/ St. Petersburg and surrounding countryside during the Nazi siege of the city. They encounter remnants of war everywhere they go. Can they survive and navigate long enough to complete their task?

This novel was a quick read, but surprises lurk behind every turn. Nothing can be taken at face value. War's horror continues to shock us even today over 50 years later. If you are interested in war, or just human behavior you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. You'll be glad you did!!

Dec 14, 2012
  • sharon711 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

As wise and funny as it is thrilling and original—the story is about two young men on an impossible adventure. A writer visits his retired grandparents in Florida to document their experience during the infamous siege of Leningrad. His grandmother won’t talk about it, but his grandfather reluctantly consents. The result is the captivating odyssey of two young men trying to survive against desperate odds. Lev Beniov considers himself “built for deprivation.” He’s small, smart, and insecure, a Jewish virgin too young for the army, who spends his nights working as a volunteer firefighter with friends from his building. When a dead German paratrooper lands in his street, Lev is caught looting the body and dragged to jail, fearing for his life. He shares his cell with the charismatic and grandiose Kolya, a handsome young soldier arrested on desertion charges. Instead of the standard bullet in the back of the head, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. What transpires is as devastating as it is inspiring. A great story.

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Mar 18, 2014
  • runfastread rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

runfastread thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Apr 26, 2012
  • IvanBello rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

IvanBello thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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Nov 15, 2014
  • siammarino rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Lev and Kolya are natives of Piter during the siege of Leningrad. The unlikely pair get thrown together in a jail and are offered their freedom if they can come up with a dozen eggs for the wedding cake of an official's daughter. Great historical novel that recounts the siege from the Russian point of view. Characters display humor, courage and ingenuity. Loved the bittersweet ending.


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City of Thieves
Benioff, David
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app16 Version fyrfaldig Last updated 2014/11/28 11:09