We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
 >   > 
City of Thieves | [David Benioff]

City of Thieves

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.
Regular Price:$28.00
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

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

4.4 (1714 )
5 star
 (1001)
4 star
 (506)
3 star
 (132)
2 star
 (47)
1 star
 (28)
Overall
4.5 (943 )
5 star
 (602)
4 star
 (235)
3 star
 (72)
2 star
 (23)
1 star
 (11)
Story
4.5 (947 )
5 star
 (625)
4 star
 (238)
3 star
 (60)
2 star
 (18)
1 star
 (6)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Shawn Huntington, Wv, United States 01-07-10
    Shawn Huntington, Wv, United States 01-07-10 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    49
    14
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Suprising"

    This book was a pleasant surprise. Enjoyed all the way thru and Ron Pearlman did a great job with Russian voices.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janachek 01-05-10
    Janachek 01-05-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    78
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "City of Thieves"

    The best Audible book I listened to in 2009.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan Bellevue, WA, United States 01-05-10
    Dan Bellevue, WA, United States 01-05-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    46
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    444
    17
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    "Great story"

    A war story, a coming of age story, a buddy story and a romance - City of Thieves is all those things and more. The setting during the first winter of the siege of Leningrad with the horrors of war and the totalitarian Communist state is surreal, but completely convincing. There is certainly profanity but it's part of the world and not gratuitous. The narration is superb - although sometimes it is difficult to catch the switch in characters during a conversation. Overall, a great story, that I am listening to for the second time now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell Sunrise, FL, USA 01-01-10
    Russell Sunrise, FL, USA 01-01-10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    1
    Overall
    "excellent historical fiction"

    Well written, well read, and even nice musical interludes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DWM Bradenton, FL 08-23-09
    DWM Bradenton, FL 08-23-09 Member Since 2007

    DWMMLM

    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    125
    24
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Enjoyable characters"

    This is a good book although I'd rate it more 3.5 stars than 4 if I could. Characters are delightful and the story is solid. I found a lot to laugh at here which surprised me a bit as there's not much funny about WWII. Narrator is good, not great, but keeps the booing moving. The book drags a bit but you're so hooked you can't leave.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynne Kansas City, MO, USA 08-12-09
    Lynne Kansas City, MO, USA 08-12-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Great story"

    A must listen.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tango Texas 04-24-12
    Tango Texas 04-24-12

    Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1678
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    540
    154
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    334
    13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Catcher in the Rye Meets WWII Russia"
    Would you try another book from David Benioff and/or Ron Perlman?

    Ron Perlman was better than I expected, but I would not rate him better than average as a narrator. He really does the voices rather well, though. I would not read another David Benioff book. This is a coming of age story told from the viewpoint of a 17 year old boy so no big shock that much of his thinking is focused on sex. However, I think some of this was gratuitously vulgar and detracted from the story. When the author focused on the historical fiction part of the book, it was quite good, but the coming of age sections were crass with no new insights.


    Was City of Thieves worth the listening time?

    I got the audiobook on sale and it was OK for the price - there are better books to listen to than this so I don't really recommend it.


    Any additional comments?

    The picture of WWII Russia was quite interesting and often absorbing, but some of the crude and vulgar dialog was distracting and just not necessary.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betty B. SJC, CA 03-10-13
    Betty B. SJC, CA 03-10-13 Member Since 2012

    BB

    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    13
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Melodramatic!"
    What disappointed you about City of Thieves?

    The basic story line was ridiculous consisting of a bunch of hyperbolic, melodramatic, predictably written ridiculous scenes strung together and punctuated by unnecessarily crude comments.


    Would you ever listen to anything by David Benioff again?

    Really? Why would I?


    Would you be willing to try another one of Ron Perlman’s performances?

    Perhaps, it's not his fault Benioff wrote a dumb book.


    Any additional comments?

    It's not worth my time...

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christoph 11-14-13
    Christoph 11-14-13 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Bad narration, so so story, to much cliche'"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The facts about Lenningrad seem very far fetched.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    The ending is a bit predictable, but is still the best part of the book.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Ron Perlman?

    No idea who would have done a better job, but Ron Perlman really spoiled the book for me. The problem is the narrator's repetitive, choppy rendition that rolls through almost every phrase and sentence at the same pace or if the pace of the writing itself is the same throughout. It often sounds like a Hemmingway imitation contest.


    Was City of Thieves worth the listening time?

    There are better books to listen to.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DMHVetSurveyor Western Wisconsin 01-17-11
    DMHVetSurveyor Western Wisconsin 01-17-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    579
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    226
    94
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    36
    0
    Overall
    "Much better than expected"

    I love Ron Pearlman's narration. He was perfect for this book. The storyline was great, you believe that it really could have happened. Well worth the credit or the price, especially when you catch it on sale as I did.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.