Monday, June 25, 2018

A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow is a novel about the life of a Russian aristocrat who goes from the top of society to somewhere around the middle following the Bolshevik revolution. Over the course of his life and through his eyes, we see the gradual degradation of society into an inefficient, authoritarian/centrally-planned regime that makes life suck.

No doubt communism has been terrible for mankind as historically implemented. Knowing what we know about incentives (e.g. the level of prudence by which someone will act when they have little/no ownership), we might predict that it is unlikely to ever work as long as humans act like humans. And yet, the novel felt a little too complicit in bashing the revolution, ignoring its causes; it's not like Russian peasants had a great life under Tsarist rule! By following the saga through the eyes of a former aristocrat, the reader definitely gets only a one-sided view.

But the novel is entertaining, humourous and educational enough that I did finish it despite its length. I've been getting more ruthless about cutting bait when I'm not enjoying a book, and this one still made the cut.


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