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     About Vladimir Alexandrov


    I grew up in New York City in a Russian emigre family and wanted to be a scientist from an early age. However, after getting Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Geology from Queens College and The City College of New York, I decided that I'd learned enough about the natural world but didn't understand myself or other people. My solution was to switch to studying literature and the humanities, which resulted in my getting a Ph. D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton. This helped, and the quest continues. After teaching in the Slavic Department at Harvard, I moved to Yale University in 1986, where I taught courses on Russian literature and culture until retiring in 2018 to write full time. I live in Hamden, Connecticut, with my wife, who teaches Spanish at Yale, and have a son who teaches humanities in a prep school in the Midwest   and a daughter who works in an art museum in NYC.

    I used to be an avid tennis player before I started to work on THE BLACK RUSSIAN. But Frederick Thomas proved to be such a fascinating character, and the search for information about him through a labyrinth of archives and libraries so engrossing and time-consuming (with lots of research trips both in the United States and abroad), that tennis began to feel increasingly like a distraction from what I wanted to do.  I switched to a gym instead.

    I found the process of writing up my findings as compelling as the detective-like hunt for information that occupied me earlier. It's a fascinating challenge to remain absolutely faithful to the facts while you try to squeeze every drop of information out of them and bring them to life in your imagination. It's also a daunting but a very seductive challenge to find a way to tell the story in a way that is vivid, compelling, and true.



    About my new book

    I'm now completing another book, tentatively entitled To Break Russia's Chains: Boris Savinkov's Wars against the Tsar, Lenin, and the Bolsheviks. Savinkov (1879-1925) was a revolutionary terrorist, writer, and political activist who saw the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as equally tyrannical.  He led an amazing life, with twists and turns that would seem implausible if invented by a novelist.  Winston Churchill, who knew and admired Savinkov, included an essay about him in his book Great Contemporaries, where he said “few men tried more, gave more, dared more and suffered more for the Russian people.”  The eminent writer W. Somerset Maugham called “Savinkov the most extraordinary man I have ever met.”  In the eyes of the GPU, the Soviet political police in the 1920s, Savinkov was so dangerous that no effort was spared to capture him.  And what they did in 1924 is still a source of great pride for today's descendants of the GPU.




    (For details, please see "Events" page)



    Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, North Carolina, March 11, 2013



    TurnRow Book Company, Greenwood, Mississippi, March 21, 2013



    Cutrer Mansion, Clarksdale, Mississippi, March 22, 2013

    "For two hours, you could hear a pin drop," said one guest on Friday night's lecture on "The Black Russian" by its author Vladimir Alexandrov.  "I've never experienced a crowd that large, that quiet," continued another member of the audience at the Cutrer Mansion.

    Clarksdale Press Register

    Off Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi, March 23, 2013

    Princeton Alumni Association of Eastern Connecticut, New Haven, April 3, 2013



    Howard University and Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science, Washington, D. C., April 18, 2013



    "Russkiy Mir" Center at American Councils for International Education

    Washington, D. C., April 19, 2013



    Yale Club of Philadelphia and the Yale Black Alumni Association of Philadelphia,

    April 27, 2013


    Princeton Club of London and Head of Zeus Publishers, Pushkin House, London, June 5, 2013



    Jewish Community Library, San Francisco, October 17, 2013


    Skylight Books, Los Angeles, October 25, 2013


    Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ, November 7, 2013

    (Courtesy of Caroline Ramos-Pinsky)




    Waterstone's Bookstore, Piccadilly, London, England, with Theodora Clark (L), Catherine Merridale, and Giles Milton, November 26, 2013



    Princeton Alumni Association of Fairfield County, Connecticut, March 30, 2014


    Yale Club of Singapore, August 11, 2015

    At Divine Wine Extraordinaire, a truly extraordinary Art Deco space, with the resident "wine angel" (see



    Davidson College, North Carolina, September 7, 2015