Daniel Beer

All Hearts Were Chilled

Leningrad: Tragedy of a City Under Siege, 1941–44


Bloomsbury 512pp £25 order from our bookshop

Anyone driving from Pulkovo Airport into St Petersburg today passes an enormous memorial to the siege of Leningrad at the edge of the city. A vast obelisk is fronted by ranks of soldiers and workers, men and women who march out fearlessly in the direction of the front line only a few kilometres to the south. Erected in the early 1970s, the monument symbolises an official Soviet and now largely unaltered Russian narrative of the selfless and united blokadniki defending their besieged city. Leningrad does not seek to overturn this powerful story of heroism completely but it does argue that the reality of the siege was a good deal more complicated and ambiguous. In a magisterial telling of the story that is by turns inspiring and appalling, Reid reconstructs the lives of those caught up in one of the key conflicts of the Second World War and one of the twentieth century’s greatest human tragedies.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The lack of evidence ... of any definitive brain pathology in cases of schizophrenia and the absence of any reliab… ,
    • 'Since Dylan’s commercial and ideological heyday, the intrusion of sociology, semiology and post-structuralist thou… ,
    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,