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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

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  •  
    Joel NEWPORT BEACH, CA, United States 01-17-13
    Joel NEWPORT BEACH, CA, United States 01-17-13 Member Since 2011

    Joel Szerlip

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Very Different WWII Fiction"

    From the opening moments of City of Thieves I was instantly hooked. I loved the two main characters (Lev & Kolya) and the different places they were in their young lives. Set in Russia during WWII this book is so different than any other I had ever read before.

    The story does take some predictable turns towards the end but all in all I really enjoyed the book. Not to mention the stellar narration by Ron Perlman who really needs to do more narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Krispian 01-16-13
    Krispian 01-16-13 Member Since 2013

    The more you love books... the more books you love!

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    "Loved it!"

    What a fantastic story! I was completely transported into wartime Russia. The characters were very likeable. The story was well written and wrapped up nicely, but I wish it were longer because I didn't want it to end!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristin Shields BEND, OR, United States 01-14-13
    Kristin Shields BEND, OR, United States 01-14-13 Member Since 2013

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Excellent Narration!"

    This is not the sort of book I would have picked on my own, but I am so glad I gave it a try after the rave reviews on Audible. Fantastic narration, compelling story despite its brutal nature. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mavismay 01-10-13
    mavismay 01-10-13
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    "Realism in its best form"
    If you could sum up City of Thieves in three words, what would they be?

    Gallant determination


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

    The escape fight while he was playing chess


    What about Ron Perlman’s performance did you like?

    Love R.P.he makes you feel with his reading that you are part of the book definitely shows emotion in his narrations


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

    Laughed at the B.M. thing and hiney shot but was sad about the demise a bummer there!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle San Francisco, California, United States 12-21-12
    Michelle San Francisco, California, United States 12-21-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Intense topic tempered nicely with humor."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely! Intensity with the right about of humor - Ron Perlman captures perfectly.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Although I did not want the book to end, loved the very ending.


    What does Ron Perlman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Yes - he captured the voices perfectly in an entertaining way.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    A great buddy comedy/tragedy


    Any additional comments?

    Highly recommend!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Davis California 12-06-12
    R. Davis California 12-06-12
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    "A good listen."
    Where does City of Thieves rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Middle. It's good. Not great, amazing or breathtaking... but a good, interesting listen.


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

    That would be a spoiler to anyone who might read this before listening to the book.


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

    This is my first time with Mr. Perlman. He did a good job.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No... too long.


    Any additional comments?

    Ron has a nice melodious voice. Sometimes he can be a bit soporific. But otherwise a good story, interesting details, mostly believable. One plot point was a bit annoying and I question the authors use of it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Gilbert, AZ 10-22-12
    Joe Gilbert, AZ 10-22-12 Member Since 2017
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    "One of the Best I have listened to!"

    This book was amazing. It will transport you to another place and time. The narration and the story were top notch! Don't miss it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pattie LEWISTON, MAINE, United States 10-16-12
    Pattie LEWISTON, MAINE, United States 10-16-12 Member Since 2017
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    "Best audiobook I've ever bought."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    In a heartbeat! Ron Perlman is an amazing narrator. I could not stop listening. He needs to narrate more books.


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

    When Kolya finally gets his shit. Yes, you read that right.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The final one. Which I won't spoil for you.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    From the writer of the 25th Hour, a new movie ...


    Any additional comments?

    If I ever feel sorry for myself, I'll just remember library candy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    10-01-12
    10-01-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Very good listen"
    Where does City of Thieves rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Interesting insight into WWII St. Petersburg,


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The characters were develope very fast.


    Any additional comments?

    The ending of the book was very well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy 09-25-12
    Amy 09-25-12
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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

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