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In Europe Central, Vollmann presents a mesmerizing series of intertwined
paired stories that compare and contrast the moral decisions made by
various figures — some famous, some infamous, some unknown — associated
with the warring authoritarian cultures of Germany and the USSR in the
twentieth century. He conjures up two generals, one Russian and one German,
who collaborate with the enemy for different reasons and with different
results. Another pairing tells of two heroes — a female Russian partisan
martyred at the beginning of World War II and a young German man who joins
the SS in order to reveal its secrets and halt its crimes. Several stories
concern the complex and elusive Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich and the
Stalinist assaults against his work and life; also explored are the fates
of artists and poets such as Käthe Kollwitz, Anna Akhmatova, and the
documentary filmmaker Roman Karmen.

William T. Vollmann—Europe Central

  • 9781846880018
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