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City of Thieves

A Novel

by David Benioff

City of Thieves by David Benioff X
City of Thieves by David Benioff
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  • First Published:
    May 2008, 272 pages
    Apr 2009, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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City of Thieves
City of Thieves by David Benioff
I am so thankful for this banana I am eating currently and this book shall make you feel the same.

Following an unlikely duo of a poet looter and a handsome deserter through a tale of war in the city of Leningrad, David Benioff’s City of Thieves delivers a page turning story and outstandingly hearty characters.

Lev the poet and Kolya the heartthrob are bonded together by a ridiculous mission with upon completion they will be spared execution even though the mission itself is basically a death sentence. Mission: in a city under Nazi siege and suffering from dyer hunger, find a dozen eggs for the wedding of the colonel’s daughter. Trudging into enemy lines during the brutal winter of Russia, the pair encounters many close calls of the Nazi persuasion, meet’s up with an fire-haired, Archangel girl sniper who stirs the love interests of the poet and play’s a life or death chess game with the atrocious commandeer of the feared Einsatzgruppe all the while searching for a dozen of precious eggs.

Most impressive is how well Benioff portrays the absolute hunger the surviving citizens of Leningrad (St. Petersburg) endured and the will of human nature to survive even through such adversity. Hunger is a bitch, quite frankly, and he describes it well.

This is one of those books where you never forget its ending.

This book is outstanding. Read it, eat a large meal, and appreciate that meal.

City of Thieves
This book by David Benioff got me from the first page and left me wanting more when it was over. I loved this book on so many levels and not many books effect me this way. It was funny, tragic, thrilling, magical. It took me to a place I had never been before ~ Leningrad, Russia, World War II, during the siege and into the lives and minds of two unlikely friends as they take a journey that you don't want to miss. I will reread this book. I loved it!
Noah Hollin

A great and exciting read for anyone trying to find a good book.
Scott Waddell

City of Thieves
What can I say...I am somewhat lethargic when it comes to reading. I usually start a book and read for a few days and then my attention is turned elsewhere and I don,t pick it up again for a be honest sometimes books take me months to read.......but not this book. This is the first novel I have read in years which completely captivated my attention, I started reading it on a Sunday evening and had finished it by Monday Dinner time, for me this is a feat believe me. The Characters are wonderful as is the story from beginning to end. I think I have found my new favorite author. I cannot wait to read the 25th Hour now. Being as Mr Bienhoff is a screenwriter by trade I can Hopefully assume that this novel may turn into a movie someday, it has all that's required. This is the BEST book I have read since high school.

City of Thieves
In the opening chapter of City of Thieves we meet David, who lives in Los Angeles and writes screenplays about superheroes. Realizing his life and writing career borders on dull, he decides to write a story about his grandfather's experiences living during the Siege of Leningrad in World War II. He flies off to Florida to interview his grandfather and here the story begins. David Benioffs debut novel takes us on quite an adventure. The story's main focus is on two young men, Lev (David's grandfather) and Koyla, doing their darnedest to survive the coming siege. On New Year's Eve, Lev and his friends loot the dead body of a German paratrooper. Caught in the act by soldiers, only Lev is actually captured and imprisoned. Here he meets the wise-cracking Koyla. Both are certain their fate will be death. Enter The Colonel, the only one who can pardon them. He offers a reprieve if they can supply a dozen eggs which will be used to bake his daughters wedding cake. If they bring the eggs within the week, they will get back their ration cards. Without these, death is certain to follow. The quest for eggs is no easy task in Piter, where little food is available and the hungry are forced to boil the glue from books (library candy) or even worse, resort to cannibalism for sustenance. Koyla and Levs quest to procure the eggs is reminiscent of many a boyhood adventure. Think Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn or the young men in Richard Bachman's The Body. It even reminds me a bit of Street Boys by Carcaterra, in its depiction of the common people just trying to stay alive during war. Benioffs writing is stronger, and the overall story is superior. It does not give the a detailed view of the siege but a fairly good picture of what it would be like to live in the future Saint Petersburg. Some of the violence made me cringe but this was redeemed by the humor and love in the story.I'm certain some readers will think parts of the plot improbable but that doesn't bother me; it's fiction, right? In fact, just that, the improbability, makes the story for me. David, while interviewing his grandfather, notes A couple of things still don't make sense to me. His grandfather's answer, David, he said. You're a writer. Make it up.I had the pleasure to visit Russia this past June and recognized many of the places that were part of Lev's and Koyla's journey. The bitter cold of Benioffs story reminded me why I didnt visit in January.It always fun to read a debut novel. You get a hint of a promise of a writers worth and if the storys good you eagerly await the next outing. Im hoping David Benioff doesnt keep me waiting too long.

City of Thieves
This book is as close to literary perfection as I have found all year! However, know this: there is violence, there is profanity, it is stark but it's all appropriate for the setting (the Siege of Leningrad) and it's not gratuitous. I love, love, love this author..his ability to draw strong characters, to evoke an era, and to so skillfully weave together the larger context as it relate to the prime characters is amazing! I will be recommending this book to all who seek a great story that packs a punch. This author is just plain fabulous. If you want something real, look no further.
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