City of Thieves

A Novel
Narrated by: Ron Perlman
Length: 8 hrs and 28 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (5,231 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the critically acclaimed author of The 25th Hour and When the Nines Roll Over and co-creator of the HBO series Game of Thrones, a captivating novel about war, courage, survival - and a remarkable friendship that ripples across a lifetime. 

During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, 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 Soviet 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 through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible. 

By turns insightful and funny, thrilling and terrifying, the New York Times best seller City of Thieves is a gripping, cinematic World War II adventure and an intimate coming-of-age story with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men.

©2008 David Benioff (P)2008 Penguin

Featured Article: Listening Recommendations for Awards Season


There’s nothing better than finding the perfect show to binge-watch or a newly released film that really resonates with you…that is, until it ends, and the dreaded sensation of Now what? settles in. But don’t fret—as we prepare to cheer on our favorites at the Academy Awards (and recover from some seriously painful Golden Globe upsets), we’ve compiled a list of audiobook recommendations based on this season’s most acclaimed series and cinema.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Story To Savor

This is "plot-driven" fiction at its finest and a superb audiobook. Highly literate, compelling characters, riveting story line set in the vicious German siege of Leningrad in WWII, and laced with wit and humor. The construction is the classic 'quest', a mismatched couple of underdog heroes set off on an impossible task under appalling conditions. We see the story unfold through the eyes of bright, naive Lev but it is his companion Kolya who you fall in love with, a bombastic, pretty boy Cossack with irrepressible charm.
The story gallops along and there is no fluff or filler, though you wish there was because it is over all too soon. There are cinematic touches -it is easy to believe that Benioff is an accomplished screenwriter - but none that bothered me. I appreciated the historical accuracy and insight in a story so lively, entertaining and rich in humanity. I also like the teasing hints that this is a true story passed along from the author's grandfather. And Ron Perlman's narration is very good.
I still hold The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty as the best audiobook I've listened to, and I've been impressed by Bryce Courtenay's stories, but City of Thieves is a very close number two.

49 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Stunning Tale. Great Narration.

1st, Ron Perlman (Hellboy)is a real suprise. Excelent reader, great tone and pacing. Is he Russian? Story is very engrossing, the details make the book. Grim tale and plenty of misery, don't listen if you've just gone off your meds, but worth the effort for the real emotional attatchment you build w/ the players.

46 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

terrific!

One of the very best audiobooks ever! Shocking vignettes of war-torn Leningrad combined with laugh out loud humor and real excitment. Heart rending characters. Ron Perlman does a wonderful job narrating. This is an easy 5 star. Terrific.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

You Will Cherish Your Next Omelet

Leningrad, in winter, is brutally cold. Real hunger is a gnawing beast. Relief from either, as welcome as it may be, merely releases the exhaustion that the pain of cold and the ache of hunger had kept at bay.

We know this, not because David Benioff told us, but because we experienced it through the remarkable characters of City of Thieves. Benioff crafts his characters so deftly, and with such originality and empathy, that we are drawn into his story completely. We don't read it; we live it.

City of Thieves is a character-driven tale set in Leningrad at war. We travel with Benioff's protagonists, Lev and Kolya, through this besieged city, on a quest that is both trivial and life-threatening, to find a dozen eggs. Their fear, their hunger, their rage, their hope, their grief ... these aren't emotions we read about. We feel them, and empathize because Benioff has drawn his characters so robustly.

Benioff has done this, in large part, through the little details he has sprinkled so generously throughout the narration. In many ways, the details carry us forward, through a very tight plot, that never really loses intensity. The details create the mental images that endure ... the *giant's" rooms, the city's defenses, the Colonel's petty corruption, the Nazi's instances of unimaginable cruelty, and much, much more.

What might otherwise be a soul-crushing story, is made bearable (and even somehow ennobling) by regular injections humor ~ often war-weary or cynical ~ but real enough and creative enough, that you will find yourself smiling and laughing much more often than you would expect. At least I did.

Even the profanity is wildly imaginative and, far from being gratuitous, is an important, and welcome, part of the story.

City of Thieves is narrated wonderfully by Ron Perlman. Here, the narration really does add to the story. Characters are presented faithfully; their voices ring true and are just what you would expect for them. Pace is flawless; pronunciation equally so (something that is increasingly rare in audiobooks these days)

City of Thieves is more than worth the time and the credit. This one is a keeper. Do yourself a favor.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

My Best Yet

I thoroughly enjoyed, "City of Thieves" what a great story. Great charachters, I could picture myself in in St Petersburg under siege fron the Germans. This has been my favorite audiobook so far and inspired me to go see Russia in November. You'll never regret this one!

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Entertaining WWII view from Leningrad

If you have any Russian blood in you, as I do, this story will reverberate for you. During the war, two waifs find their way through almost incomprehensible famine, destruction, bombing by the ubiquitous Germans and winter's cold, on a mission from a Russian general to find a dozen eggs! One is Jewish, although only half, and the other is pure blond-haired, blue-eyed Cossack. This is the perfect duo. They stumble through enemy lines and eventually the Jewish boy, who is seventeen, finds himself playing chess with a monstrous Nazi Oberleuitenant (forgive my ignorance of German; perhaps it is understandable). The Nazi has murdered so many Russians, in such vile ways, that he must be killed. Along the way our boys pick up Vika, a tiny woman who is the best sniper around. She is so bony that she passes for a young boy, and Lev falls in chaste love with her. The writing is smooth and true. The narrator is an actor who knows how to use his voice. There are a few funny scenes, particularly one in which our boys, looking for eggs, find a scrawny what-they-think-is-a-chicken. They are in for a surprise. You might expect the book to be depressing, as much WWII stuff is for me now, but the author and the narrator make it rise above the Russian suffering. We know the horrendous losses that Russia sustained, but the book is worth reading for its insights into Russia. Only Martin Cruz Smith can do this better, and he is truly in a league with only one member.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great Story!!!!

I got this book on a sale. I probably wouldn't have gotten it otherwise, based on the description. I sure would have missed out, because this is a fantastic book! Well written, fast paced and just a great story. I can't imagine anyone NOT liking this book. I highly recommend it. Narration was excellent, as well.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it

At first, I wasn't sure I would like this because the narration seemed so flat, but it totally grew on me and fit the book and story perfectly. The story is compelling and memorable; the characters will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommended.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

City of Thieves

This book reminds me of The Twelve Chairs. I've listened to it several times and it just gets better and better. Perlman's performance is perfect

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • J
  • 10-31-09

Fabulous, a real pleasure

great narrator, good solid story never flags. devotees of WWII and cold war thrillers will like the taste; like a good solid modern Russian WWII DVD movie.

7 people found this helpful