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City of Thieves Audiobook

City of Thieves

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Audible Editor Reviews

Two unlikely young men charged with desertion and facing execution in the besieged city of Leningrad are charged with an impossible task: they can have their freedom if they can find a dozen eggs for the wedding cake of a powerful colonel's daughter. The two make an odd couple: one a scrawny Jewish outsider, the other an erudite charmer, and their journey takes them from the war-torn city to the snow-covered countryside. Sound like the basis of a classic movie? That might be because the author, David Benioff, is a successful screenwriter, and City of Thieves is halfway between movie-script and roman-a-clef, between airport blockbuster and serious literature.

It's a difficult balancing act, but it succeeds here in no small part due to Ron Perlman's unforgettable narration. His voice is as full of character as his celebrated face, and his bar-room drawl brings a hard-boiled noir quality to the narration. It's a voice dripping in contraband and cordite, easily navigating the Russian names and injecting a sly, seductive humor into the dialogue that offsets the occasional lapse into sentimentality. It's a fantastic performance that succeeds in tying together the disparate elements of this rich tale.

Perlman also takes great relish in conveying the myriad of tiny details that Benioff weaves into the narrative, and which lend a cinematic quality to the work. Indeed, the author's screenwriting background is evident throughout: there's a tightly-constructed plot that never loses a sense of forward propulsion, even during the quieter moments; there is a skilful interweaving of film-school tropes — the buddy movie, the coming-of-age tale, the WWII film. And there's that attention to detail. Although Benioff has clearly done his research, it's the off-beat imagery that brings to life the reality of living in a besieged city: concrete dragon's teeth are arranged to hinder the approach of enemy tanks; leather boots still bloody from the feet of the previous owners; malnourished children's bones break easily.

A slightly superfluous framing narrative alerts us to the novel's more literary aspirations. The art of storytelling is central to this tale, and the narrative brims over with literary references: doomed poets, scabrous novelists, callous propagandists. The picaresque plot recalls A Hero of Our Time, and the main action begins with a German parachutist's corpse drifting down the empty streets, an image halfway between a movie storyboard and Lord of the Flies — just one of many evocative set-pieces in this highly entertaining adventure. —Dafydd Phillips

Publisher's Summary

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. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt to find the impossible.

A search that takes them through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and the devastated surrounding countryside creates an unlikely bond between this earnest, lust-filled teenager and an endearing lothario with the gifts of a conman.

Set within the monumental events of history, City of Thieves is an intimate coming-of-age tale with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men.

©2008 David Benioff; (P)2008 Penguin

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (2337 )
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4.6 (1528 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Amy 09-25-12
    Amy 09-25-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    36
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    "Fantastic!"

    Such an amazing book and so well performed! I can't imagine a better way to encounter this book than the audible version. And this book should be encountered!! It is a fantastic, touching, funny, moving, thought-provoking story told in perfect prose and with the right amount of.... everything.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt Bakersfield, CA, United States 09-05-12
    Matt Bakersfield, CA, United States 09-05-12
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    "Great!"

    Having just come off listening to a few bad audio books, this was refreshing. The plot and characters are engaging and the use of language is great. Ron Perlman does a very good job.

    This was a pleasure to listen to, all the way through.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth D. Smith 08-27-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Great Book!!"
    If you could sum up City of Thieves in three words, what would they be?

    Extremely well written, this is a coming of age adventure story - but beware not a happy feel good book. The story is set in and around the siege of Lenningrad and the gruesome realities of war are ever present.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Drew 07-27-12
    Drew 07-27-12
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    "Masterful story, Masterful narration"

    Get this book. I haven't been this enraptured with a work for a while. Benioff tells a powerful tale from a first-hand perspective. I was at once captivated and unsettled by its realism. And Perlman's talent showed brightly and with solid skill. Get this book. You won't regret it. I'm starting a second listen now just in case I missed even a nuance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendy United States 07-23-12
    Wendy United States 07-23-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Interesting read"

    This is not my normal book but it was very good. It is disturbing in places but very interesting. I would recommend but not for those with a very tender heart.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth 06-11-12
    Beth 06-11-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Story!"
    Would you listen to City of Thieves again? Why?

    The story went into great character development and held my interest until the very end.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of City of Thieves?

    The ending. A nice surprise at the end.


    Any additional comments?

    I would recommend it to everyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katie ATLANTA, GA, United States 06-04-12
    Katie ATLANTA, GA, United States 06-04-12 Member Since 2011
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    15
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    "Fantastic Story of WWII Russia"

    The details of how people survived in a city under siege were marvelous. The characters were fabulous and some of the tidbits will stay with me forever.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff H. 05-26-12
    Jeff H. 05-26-12 Member Since 2009
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    51
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    "Surpassed expectations"
    What made the experience of listening to City of Thieves the most enjoyable?

    Likeable rich characters. Interesting view of WWII history.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Kolya. Wonderful sense of self and infectious curiosity.


    Which character – as performed by Ron Perlman – was your favorite?

    Kolya. Ron Perlman was fantastic


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I could not stop listening.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet Crestline, OH, US 05-15-12
    Janet Crestline, OH, US 05-15-12 Member Since 2016
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    "A good listen"
    Where does City of Thieves rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

    In the top third. It was an interesting concept idea that takes place during the siege of Leningard. I think the author captured what life must have been like. Plus he had good characters too.


    What other book might you compare City of Thieves to and why?

    The Book Thief. Different cities but something similar about the style of writing.


    Have you listened to any of Ron Perlman???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Yes is a good narrator.


    If you could rename City of Thieves, what would you call it?

    It is a great name.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 04-27-12
    John 04-27-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Highly recommend"

    Would rate 6 stars if an option. Writing is excellent and matched with great narration. Always looked forward to my ride to work to listen to the book. Wish there were more audiobooks from this author. A little graphic in places, but not over done and needed for the setting of the book. Also, one gets a good historical look at the Soviet Union in WW2. Can't go wrong with this book. Very highly recommend!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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