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Publisher's Summary

The Black Russian is the incredible story of Frederick Bruce Thomas, born in 1872 to former slaves who became prosperous farmers in Mississippi. A rich white planter’s attempt to steal their land forced them to flee to Memphis, where Frederick’s father was brutally murdered. After leaving the South and working as a waiter and valet in Chicago and Brooklyn, Frederick sought greater freedom in London, then crisscrossed Europe, and - in a highly unusual choice for a black American at the time - went to Russia in 1899. Because he found no color line there, Frederick made Moscow his home. He renamed himself Fyodor Fyodorovich Tomas, married twice, acquired a mistress, and took Russian citizenship. Through his hard work, charm, and guile he became one of the city’s richest and most famous owners of variety theaters and restaurants. But the Bolshevik Revolution ruined him, and he barely escaped with his life and family to Constantinople in 1919. Starting from scratch, he made a second fortune by opening celebrated nightclubs that introduced jazz to Turkey. However, the long arm of American racism, the xenophobia of the new Turkish Republic, and Frederick’s own extravagance landed him in debtors’ prison. He died in Constantinople in 1928.

©2013 Vladimir Alexandrov (P)2013 Blackstone Audio

Critic Reviews

"Peter Marinker's narration of how the restaurant and nightclub entrepreneur gained and lost fortunes sounds like a novel.... Marinker's voice proves flexible as he conveys the attitudes of bureaucrats, condescending American tourists, Thomas's friends and loyal employees, and Thomas's correspondence." (AudioFile Magazine)

What listeners say about The Black Russian

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US Born African Descendant 2 Russian Citizenship

Genealogy & Historian will LOVE this Story. It is a detailed account of his escape & transition into freedom & independence....and so it is.

3 people found this helpful

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An incredible story.

Fantastic! Excellent narration, too. Treat yourself to a truly unique story about a past era.

2 people found this helpful

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  • R.
  • 09-16-21

Well researched and well told real life story of a most interesting man

I have always been fascinated with this book and finally had the chance to listen to it. It was extremely well researched and was written with such a great touch to details that I was enthralled through the whole book. The author wove the history of the time with such easy into the how and why of the expressive man that it became a great lesson in the history of the time. I enjoyed it much better than I had imagined.

1 person found this helpful

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Great story

This was an unexpected jem. The author does a great job of telling this incredible story. The story is one of resilience and should serve as a guide to anyone of color. The subject had his flaws no doubt, but he was very industrious. Definitely worth a credit.

1 person found this helpful

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Truth Uncovered

I loved it. A complex life full of struggles and triumphs. Reminded me the story of The Black Count the true story of Alexander Dumas Sr. Amazing story will share it with others.

1 person found this helpful

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Little known part of Russian history

What made the experience of listening to The Black Russian the most enjoyable?

A surprising story. I know a lot about Russian history, but the story of an African-American's success in per-revolutionary Russia is unexpected.

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

Sad, but somehow not surprising.

What three words best describe Peter Marinker’s performance?

Competent, easy-to-listen-to, adequate pronunciation of Russian.

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

A Black American Entrepreneur in Russia

1 person found this helpful

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Enthralling, captivataing

An amazing story of an African-American man, who follows his dreams, and lives his life. No guarantee that following that path leads to a happy ending. But he took risks, endured hardship, and experienced the highs and lows of living a real life. I was rooting for him in every chapter. He did not disappoint. Like a true warrior, 7 times down 8 times up. He kept going forward! He chose the direction for his life. I really enjoyed this book and the story of the man it recounted; especially the fact that it took place within the tumultuous era of the first world war and the Russian revolution. How amazing is it that that such genius can be expressed when unfettered from racism.

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    3 out of 5 stars

uhmmm

This book was okay not the best ive heard but it brought to life the idea of a black man not being bound to the US.

1 person found this helpful