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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 (2717 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Abby 01-30-13
    Abby 01-30-13

    Four years on Audible now. Love the convenience of listening while driving, cooking, folding laundry.....

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "War cannot kill the will to survive."
    Where does City of Thieves rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    In the middle; not the best; not the worst.


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

    The Cellist of Sarajevo------a war story of human triumph.


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

    Eggs for the Colonel's Daughter


    Any additional comments?

    Interesting story but with gruesome, disturbing details. War is not pretty so a realistic portrayal.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    heART seneca sc 01-30-13
    heART seneca sc 01-30-13 Member Since 2013

    I'm a professional painter and love ennobling, enlightening literature

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    "fantastic"
    What did you love best about City of Thieves?

    From the first minute to the last I was fully engaged and riveted


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Lev won my heart with his steady growth into a man of character. I felt as though I was seeing the world through his tested lenses.


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

    All equally terrific


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    too many to choose just one


    Any additional comments?

    My best friend is a reference librarian in SE CT and this book was chosen as their annual book for all of SE CT to read. Every three years a work of fiction is selected. She said everyone greatly enjoyed the book.
    The last two books of fiction I've found riveting were this and Shantaram.
    Thank you Audible books for providing us with such terrific literature and worthy readers and a community of kindred spirits.
    Nancy

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marita Wallace 01-30-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "City of Theives - Amazing Book!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of City of Thieves to be better than the print version?

    I've never read the print version, but my guess would be - YES!


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

    Colman (the blond one of the pair)


    Any additional comments?

    I'm not the most fluent of people, but I'd recommend this book very highly. It's packed with adventure and the characters are so well drawn that you feel like you know them and are routing for them (and against their many enemies). The language and behavior of the characters are a little vulgar in places, but it's not the least bit gratuitous.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet 01-23-13
    Janet 01-23-13
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    "An entertaining read."
    What made the experience of listening to City of Thieves the most enjoyable?

    The story built without giving away too much too soon, and Lev's experiences and thoughts seemed to be authentic for a "boy" his age.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked the relationship between Lev and Coalia(?) despite their differences in personality


    What about Ron Perlman’s performance did you like?

    His voice was great and he didn't try to "act" the story. The emphasis was appropriate to the situations and didn't stand out above the story


    If you could take any character from City of Thieves out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Lev. Just to watch him enjoy the food and listen to more stories.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen N 01-17-13
    Karen N 01-17-13

    Karen Nichols

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Teen boy's story about surviving WWII in Russia"
    Would you try another book from David Benioff and/or Ron Perlman?

    Tedious and emotionally distant narrative from David Benioff. Not a Go-To author for me. The reader was competent. Perhaps even excellent. The narrative did not allow for a more emotionally engaging style.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Impatience. Disappointment.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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

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