Odessa: Genius and Death in A City of Dreams

Author: 
Charles King

Odessa, Ukraine, was the Russian Empire’s gateway to the Middle East, its greatest commercial seaport, and home to one of the most vibrant Jewish communities in all of Europe. Mark Twain described it as “America in miniature” because of its mix of nationalities and religions. Odessa’s reputation for nurturing feisty dissenters, artful raconteurs, and good-natured crooks cemented its place among Europe’s great cities. But in the twentieth century Odessa was battered by pogroms, revolution, war, occupation and atrocities of the Holocaust.
Bob Greene spent a semester living and teaching in Odessa and fell in love with the city. We will use Charles King’s lyrical history of Odessa – a story told through the lives of its people – as both a history and a travelogue of Odessa and Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.