Experts > Thomas Keneally

Thomas Keneally's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Thomas Keneally recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Thomas Keneally's favorite book recommendations of all time.

From the award-winning author of The Whisperers, Orlando Figes Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia is a dazzling history of Russia's mighty culture.

Orlando Figes' enthralling, richly evocative history has been heralded as a literary masterpiece on Russia, the lives of those who have shaped its culture, and the enduring spirit of a people.

'Wonderfully rich ... magnificent and compelling ... a delight to read'
  Antony Beevor

'A tour de force by the great storyteller of modern Russian historians ... Figes mobilizes a cast of...
Recommended by Thomas Keneally, and 1 others.

Thomas KeneallyAnd another brilliant work. He repeats many of the devices I mentioned in the first book. This is an extensive picture of Russian culture, putting culture in its place as inseparable from society. He shows the Russian mind, the cosmology of belief, daily life on a cultural basis. It’s enchanting. I don’t want to say it isn’t upbeat…but, then again, a third of Shakespeare’s plays are tragedies and... (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...


Red Cavalry and Other Stories

Throughout his life Isaac Babel was torn by opposing forces, by the desire both to remain faithful to his Jewish roots and yet to be free of them. This duality of vision infuses his work with a powerful energy from the earliest tales including 'Old Shloyme' and 'Childhood', which affirm his Russian-Jewish childhood, to the relatively non-Jewish world of his collection of stories entitled 'Red Cavalry'. Babel's masterpiece, 'Red Cavalry' is the most dramatic expression of his dualism and in his simultaneous acceptance and rejection of his heritage heralds the great American-Jewish writers from... more
Recommended by Thomas Keneally, Aleksandar Hemon, and 2 others.

Thomas KeneallyThis is largely the tale of a particular Red regiment of cavalry, bumbling through south-east Russia and the Polish countryside. They are supposed to be fighting the Poles but, like WWI, there is this endless advance and endless retreat and a lot of fascinating ideological ambiguity, the casual brutality of the Whites and Reds, the fact that it was absolutely taken for granted that obscene things... (Source)

Aleksandar HemonIt is an incredible piece of literature. Babel has an aesthetic that corresponds to not only his sensibility, but also to his awkward circumstance. (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...


Young Stalin (Joseph Stalin, #1)

'Young Stalin' is an adventure story about an exceptional, turbulent young man, born in exoticism, raised in the church, fancying himself a poet, then embracing revolutionary idealism and thereby finding his romantic Messianic mission in life.

Culminating in the 1917 revolution, Simon Sebag Montefiore's bestselling biography radically alters our understanding of the gifted politician and fanatical Marxist who shaped the Soviet empire in his own brutal image. This is the story of how Stalin became Stalin.
Recommended by Thomas Keneally, and 1 others.

Thomas KeneallyThis is an extensive picture of the pre-revolutionary Bolshevik at the tougher prison-going end of the spectrum, far removed from the leafiness implicit in the pictures of Lenin and Krupskaya in exile in Switzerland. It is a much harder experience that Stalin goes through. You can see in the young Stalin considerable signals that he is a very strange man of certain twitches, but a man of great... (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...


My Childhood

'I could hear the frost crackling outside. Greenish moonbeams shone through windows covered with patterns of ice...'

One of the most moving accounts of being a boy ever written, My Childhood is a both wonderful and harrowing memoir - and one of the great works of Russian literature.

A new series of twenty distinctive, unforgettable Penguin Classics in a beautiful new design and pocket-sized format, with coloured jackets echoing Penguin's original covers.
Recommended by Thomas Keneally, and 1 others.

Thomas KeneallyMaxim Gorky is a wonderful writer, resister, speaker-outer. He speaks out about the various excesses of the Bolshevik uprisings, but later he lost his lustre because of his complicit attitude towards Stalinism. His early works, though, are infallible. Well, not infallible, but thoroughly illuminating about the life of an autodidactic peasant, which he was. (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...

Unrivalled in scope and brimming with human drama, A People’s Tragedy is the most vivid, moving and comprehensive history of the Russian Revolution available today.

‘A modern masterpiece’ Andrew Marr

‘The most moving account of the Russian Revolution since Doctor ZhivagoIndependent

Opening with a panorama of Russian society, from the cloistered world of the Tsar to the brutal life of the peasants, A People’s Tragedy follows workers, soldiers, intellectuals and villagers as their world is consumed by revolution and then...
Recommended by Thomas Keneally, Roland Chambers, and 2 others.

Thomas KeneallyWell, I’ve chosen this because, from what I remember, it’s the book I most admired while I was writing about Russia because it gives the tremendous overall sweep of the entire catastrophe up to the end of the civil war in 1922 and the famine. Figes has the capacity to focus on people you’ve never heard of and show them as representatives of ideologies competing for control of the Russian state,... (Source)

Roland ChambersA People’s Tragedy is the most readable and illuminating history of the Russian revolution to be written, using material that only became available to historians following the Soviet Union’s collapse. (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...

Don't have time to read Thomas Keneally's favorite books? Read Shortform summaries.

Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:

  • Being comprehensive: you learn the most important points in the book
  • Cutting out the fluff: you focus your time on what's important to know
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.