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 continue to teach courses on Russian literature and culture. I live in Hamden, Connecticut, with my wife, who teaches Spanish at Yale, and have a son who is a graduate student in Latin American History in Washington, D. C., now writing his Ph. D. dissertation, and a daughter who is working in NYC and pursuing a Master's degree in Art History.
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 (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). So, I gradually gave up the game, although I may go back to it now that I finished the book.
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 last 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 narrate the story in a way that is vivid, compelling, and true.
About my new book
I've started to work on another book. My new subject is Boris Savinkov (1879-1925), the revolutionary terrorist, writer, and political activist who waged wars against the tsar, Lenin, and the Bolsheviks. 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: “when all is said and done . . . few men tried more, gave more, dared more and suffered more for the Russian people.” Another Englishman, the eminent writer W. Somerset Maugham, admitted: “I think Boris 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 neutralize him. And what they did to capture him in 1924 is still something of which the current descendants of the GPU are extremely proud.
SOME PHOTOS FROM MY BOOK TOURS
(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.
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 http://divinewinesingapore.com/)
Davidson College, North Carolina, September 7, 2015