cover image Red Princess: A Revolutionary Life

Red Princess: A Revolutionary Life

Sofka Zinovieff, . . Pegasus, $27.50 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-60598-009-6

No Hollywood fantasy is more exciting than this true story of a Russian princess in exile who becomes a bohemian, free lover and Communist. WWII was a turning point for the woman who had traveled Europe, married and divorced and borne three children (possibly with different fathers). In 1940, while in France, Sofka was detained in a German camp, developed Resistance contacts and aided Jewish inmates. Soon after the war, in England, she joined the Communist Party, eventually led tours of the Soviet Union, but ended her itinerant life in England. Written by Sofka’s granddaughter and based on her published memoir, an unpublished diary kept during the war and voluminous new research, the power of this biography is in its historical breadth as well as Zinovieff’s ability to conjure the specificity of time and place through Sofka’s experiences of the 20th century’s major political and culture events. At times a focus on Zinovieff’s biographical detective work slightly slows the pace, but overall, this is a notable story told with élan and an eye for historical and social detail. Photos, map. (Nov.)