Review: Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Well, it’s only taken me over six months to write this review. When I first started this book, I didn’t really know what to expect, but it exceeded my expectations in so many ways!

The pacing and organization were extremely well-done. Some nonfiction books are super dry and draggy, but this one held my interest so well. Intertwining Shostakovich’s story with and the story of Russian in the early 20th century made for a riveting read, and the suspense was high! I feared for Shostakovich as he lived through the pre-war horrors, but then when the war came, things got even worse for him. Also, the way the book was structured around the 7th Symphony was quite lovely, but this book isn’t just focused on that single symphony. The author gives a lot of context that truly makes the story surrounding that symphony even more powerful.

And on the research side of things … wow. The author did an outstanding job balancing reports and truth. There’s a lot of confusion on what Shosty actually believed compared to what he said, especially after the war, and the author didn’t enforce his own opinion about what Shosty actually believed. The author simply presented the facts and allowed the reader to come to your own conclusions.

On another note, the pictures interspersed through the book were a wonderful addition. I loved seeing all the different photos of Shosty, and the photos of Leningrad were just heart-wrenching.

I think the one major problem keeping this book from becoming extremely popular is its classification. As a YA-labeled book, most people who would really enjoy this (history nerds and music nerds), miss out. And beyond that, there’s stuff in here I’m not sure I’d classify as appropriate for YA. The Siege of Leningrad was gruesome, and there was some stuff in this book that was probably some of the most disturbing and scary accounts I’ve ever read. There were also a few curse words, which I could’ve done without.

But beyond a perhaps-incorrect labeling and some uncomfortable scenes/wording, this book spins the amazing story of Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony and the city of Leningrad. Music history people out there, you will love this, and you won’t think about Shostakovich the same ever again!

7 thoughts on “Review: Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson

  1. I laughed when I saw the title…I cannot. XD There is actually a book about your beloved Shosty…I’m going to need to get my library to get this or something before I lose interest LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Of course there’s a book about my boy! 🙂 Hahahaha. It was actually really good, though I would warn you not to read part of it. One section in particular was one of the scariest and most sickening things I’ve ever read. History is rough … but otherwise, the book’s super informative and interesting. This is where a lot of my Shosty knowledge came from, hahaha.


  2. Wow, this looks surprisingly good!!! I sooo appreciate when people take the time to write nonfiction books in a vivid and intriguing way. (What a long title, lol… but that made sense when I realized it was nonfiction. 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Some of My Favorite Pieces of Classical Music | Vanessa Hall

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