Beyond the Book: Background information when reading City of Thieves

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City of Thieves

A Novel

By David Benioff

City of Thieves
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  • Hardcover: May 2008,
    272 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2009,
    272 pages.

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The Siege of Leningrad (September 1941 - January 1944) was one of the longest and most destructive in modern history - spanning 900 days and four Russian winters. Though the actual civilian death toll can never be known it is estimated that well over 600,000 of the approximate 3 million population died, with some estimating the death toll as high as 1.5 million.  About 80% died of starvation.

When the siege began, the city had approximately 30 days' worth of food on-hand. Rationing began almost immediately, but Leningrad's citizens weren't informed how low supplies truly were, presumably to keep them from panicking. Restaurants continued operating as normal for quite some time, and families didn't realize conservation was necessary until after food became scarce.

As food supplies were depleted, residents began preying on cats, dogs, rats and pigeons, until no more ...

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