“An impressive work of scholarship … accessibly and engagingly written, with a novelistic flourish befitting its dashing terrorist-littérateur protagonist … a far more balanced account of Savinkov the man than has hitherto been available … a worthy subject, recommended for specialist and general readers alike."
– Modern Language Review (UK)
“An engaging and even novelistic biographer … clear explications … a commendable array of published and unpublished sources."
– The Russian Review
"The importance of Boris Savinkov and his controversial role in the Russian Revolution and Civil War have been overlooked recently, but this excellent and well-written biography by Professor Alexandrov should do much to reawaken interest in his extraordinary life."
– Antony Beevor, author of STALINGRAD
“Boris Savinkov was one of the most colourful, notorious and enigmatic figures in revolutionary Russia – a flamboyant hero to some, an untrustworthy villain to others. Extraordinarily influential in his lifetime – and still a legendary figure in Russia – this complex individual has been all-but forgotten in the West. Vladimir Alexandrov’s superb biography provides a page-turning account of Savinkov’s roller-coaster life, as well as throwing valuable new light on the history of the Russian state.”
– Giles Milton, best-selling author of Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare and D-Day
"The extraordinary life of Boris Savinkov—revolutionary assassin, self-described terrorist, and novelist—is one of those historical enigmas peculiar to the tragedy of modern Russia. But in the hands of this masterful biographer, Savinkov is resurrected. Vladimir Alexandrov expertly mines the archives to write a spy story filled with intrigue, passion and improbable adventures—and along the way we learn a great deal of history. A formidable achievement."
– Kai Bird is a Pulitzer Prize winning historian, the Director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography and the author most recently of The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter.
Praise for The Black Russian—One of San Francisco Chronicle's Top Ten Nonfiction Books of 2013
"Magnetizing and unforgettable . . . In his assiduously researched, prodigiously descriptive, fluently analytical, and altogether astonishing work of resurrection, Alexandrov provides uniquely focused accounts of racial struggles in America and decadence and bloodshed in Europe and Russia while insightfully and dynamically portraying a singular man."
– Booklist (starred review)
"[A] gracefully written feat of historical sleuthing. . . . Through prodigious archival research, historical scholarship and painstaking reconstruction of secondhand accounts, [Alexandrov] has drawn a moving and vivid portrait of a remarkable American life."
– The San Francisco Chronicle
"With so much focus on the black experience in America in the 19th century, we might never consider the black experience in Europe at the same time. Vladimir Alexandrov's The Black Russian rectifies this oversight, and does so with panache. His tale is the biography of an individual who is wholly remarkable, regardless of race, and whose vitality, guile, and charm led him from Mississippi to Moscow, with plenty of adventures along the way. . . . Alexandrov transports the reader to an exotic era. Some of the most memorable parts of Thomas's life story lie in the incidental grace notes that add color to the lands through which he traveled."
– The Daily Beast
"Although Alexandrov constructed this vessel with sturdy timbers of historical research, it sails lightly on a swift narrative current that transports us from Reconstruction Mississippi to Memphis, New York City, London, Paris, Moscow and, finally, Constantinople. . . . Alexandrov excels at recreating the various worlds Thomas inhabited—from his restricted existence during Reconstruction to his glittering fast-lane life on the Continent. . . . What [Thomas’s] life illustrates, as Alexandrov skillfully and gracefully shows, is that when people are unshackled from slaveries—of whatever sort—freedom's buoyancy can lift them to surprising heights, can offer miraculous views."
– Cleveland Plain Dealer