Historical Fiction

City of Thieves – David Benioff

30 July 2018
City of Thieves Book Cover City of Thieves
David Benioff
Penguin Books

Documenting his grandparents' experiences during the siege of Leningrad, a young writer learns his grandfather's story about how a military deserter and he tried to secure pardons by gathering hard-to-find ingredients for a powerful colonel's daughter's wedding cake.


The City of Thieves is an intriguing book that not only takes into account a period in the Second World War, that has its own defining history, but it is the relationship that develops between 2 men under these unique circumstances. It is an exhilarating but fearful story where the main 2 protagonists, Lev and Koyla, have been tasked to undertake a mission in war-torn Leningrad which is abstruse. It is Russia, winter, people are starving, freezing, the city is war-torn, and life is precarious. In the midst of all this Lev and Koyla are both held in jail pending execution but get a reprieve if they find a dozen eggs for the colonel’s daughter’s wedding cake, during the German assault on the city.

The story takes the two men on a shocking mission where they will need to negotiate many challenges that test their resolve. The 2 men build a friendship which deepens as they navigate the obstacles and dangers at every turn. There is a lot of humour even in the darkest situation where we always find a way to laugh at unexpected sights. As the relationship builds we see a shift in the respect towards each other and the younger man, Lev, becoming much more assured. Benioff develops this relationship and interaction with such mastery that we become so captivated in their adventure and their wellbeing.

I bought this book with a ribbon on it that said if you don’t like this book you can have your money back. Needless to say, I still own the book and it’s going nowhere.


Additional Information

The siege of Leningrad lasted from September 1941 to 1944. By the end of the siege, some 632,000 people are thought to have died.

See History Channel link https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/siege-of-leningrad

Also, Encylopedia Britannia link https://www.britannica.com/event/Siege-of-Leningrad




Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley peter@thereadingdesk.com

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