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Oliver Bullough: The Last Man in Russia - the Struggle to Save A Dying Nation

GB Russia Society Programme

In the 1960s, when the Soviet Union said it was building heaven on earth and the brave, non-conformist dissidents lived like free men in the midst of this enormous prison, the Russian nation began to drink itself to death. For a while, government income from vodka surpassed their income from oil. Now, fifty years later, with the Soviet state dismantled, this is still a country where Muscovites might drink a bottle of vodka before breakfast, where demographers look with astonishment as the population of the world’s largest country continues to fall, far beyond the rate of decline in the West.

In The Last Man in Russia , award-winning writer Oliver Bullough investigates the life of an extraordinary Orthodox priest, with equal passions for writing and for saving his fellow citizens from the KGB, to find out why. Following in the footsteps of Father Dmitry, Bullough reconstructs the world he experienced: the famine, the occupation, the war, the frozen wastes of the Gulag, the collapse of communism and the giddy excesses that followed it. While the story of Russia’s self-destruction is shrouded in secrecy and denial, with no contemporary documents to acknowledge or explain why so many Russians were seeking oblivion, Dmitry’s diaries and sermons are that rare thing: an insight into life in a totalitarian state, unmediated and raw, exposing the deep spiritual sickness born out of the country’s long communist experiment.

Oliver Bullough is the acclaimed author of the Orwell Prize-shortlisted Let Our Fame Be Great , on which he spoke to the Great Britain-Russia Society a couple of years ago. That work was a study, part travelogue, part political analysis, of a nation in crisis. His latest work offers a portrait of Russia like no other, one that traces the current contours of the Russian soul: he shows that in a country so willing to crush its citizens, there is still a glimmer of courage, resilience and a flickering of hope.

Oliver’s book will be on sale for purchase and signing by the author.

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