As an immigrant growing up in New York, Alex Halberstadt was cut off from his family's complex ties to Soviet totalitarianism, and so he set out to understand his own history. In Ukraine, he tracks down his paternal grandfather—most likely the last living bodyguard of Joseph Stalin—and revisits Lithuania, his Jewish mother's home, to examine the legacy of the Holocaust. Halberstadt also explores his birthplace, Moscow, and here he profiles his grandmother, who designed homespun couture for Soviet ministers' wives, and his father, a black-marketer of American LPs.
"A loving and mournful account that's also skeptical, surprising and often very funny…. It's the unexpected specificity of Halberstadt's observations that ultimately make this memoir as lush and moving as it is."—NYTimes