Cover image for Russian dance : a true story of intrigue and passion in stalinist Moscow
Russian dance : a true story of intrigue and passion in stalinist Moscow
Brooks, Andrée Aelion.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons, [2004]

Physical Description:
xii, 287 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Manhattan 1928-30 -- Marc's story -- 21 Bolshoi Lubianka.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
CT1218.C36 B76 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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From Manhattan to Moscow, this personal story of love and espionage takes you on a mesmerizing journey through the turbulent years of the early twentieth century.

Advanced Praise for Russian Dance

"It is a rare occasion to have an opportunity-as painful as it is-to look into the USSR's tragic past via a personal story of two people . . . who were blessed with a real passion and punished for that with a far-too-real betrayal. Have those involved in the deeds of the inhuman state been publicly exposed and condemned? Very few were. A book like this is not just about history-it is a warning for the present and future. Russian Dance is yet to be over."
-Yevgenia M. Albats
Fellow, Davis Center for Russian Studies, Harvard University, and author of The State Within a State: The KGB and its Hold on Russia-Past, Present, and Future

"Russian Dance is at once riveting history and finely crafted literature-the tale of a brutally oppressive Russia, a communist-obsessed America, and Jewish survival. Her deft depiction of my outspoken grandfather suggests a larger evenhandedness in her handling of the grand scale of her narrative. Andree Brooks has given us a brave, important, and irresistible book."
-Hamilton Fish
President, Nation Institute, and grandson of Congressman Hamilton Fish Jr., chairman of the special congressional committee set up at the close of the 1920s to investigate communist activity inside the United States

"A riveting, disquieting journey to Moscow during the tumultuous political and economic scene of the 1920s and 1930s. The story moves from New York, to Italy, to Moscow as we witness the interplay of intrigue, politics, power, money, and religion. Brooks captures national moods as only a cosmopolitan can."
-Gene Dattel
financial historian and former investment banker

"In Russian Dance, Andree Aelion Brooks immerses the reader in the glittering art and theater life of New York in the 1920s. Brooks renders this world so strikingly, in all its wealth and splendor, that Bluet Rabinoff's decision to abandon husband and daughter and run off to Stalinist Russia with her lover, Marc, appears all the more shocking by contrast. The music and theater world of the 1920s will never come again, but it is vividly preserved in the pages of Russian Dance."
-Austin Flint
playwright and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Writing, Columbia University

Author Notes

Andree Aelion Brooks, author, journalist, and lecturer, was a contributing columnist and newswriter for the New York Times for eighteen years. In 1990, she received the American Jewish Woman of the Year Achievement Award from the American Jewish Committee and, in 2001, a special award from the Consulate General of Israel in conjunction with the American Sephardi Federation for her work on Sephardi Jewish history. She has also received an outstanding achievement award from the National Federation of Press Women. Brooks is an Associate Fellow at Yale University, as well as founder and past president of the Women's Campaign School at Yale

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Brooks recounts the fascinating true story of\b star-crossed lovers caught up in a deceitful game of cross and double-cross set against the turbulent backdrop of post-revolutionary Russia. After abandoning her husband and child in order to join her lover in Russia, celebrated Jazz Age literary hostess Helene (Bluet) Rabinoff traded in her luxurious life in New York for the stark, repressive cultural landscape of Stalinist Moscow. Although Bluet's paramour, Russian physician and old-line Bolshevik idealist Marc Cheftel, grew increasingly disenchanted with the brutality of the Communist regime and the Stalinist purges, she was pulled unwittingly into a vortex of cataclysmic historical events that would forever define her own future. Jam-packed with suspense, adventure, and romance, this incredible biographical odyssey reads like a work of fiction. --Margaret Flanagan Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Tragic love affairs that destroy a powerful man's career and a woman's life will always exert a grip on our imaginations and sense of historical inevitability (think, for example, of Charles Stewart Parnell and Mrs. O'Shea). The relationship revealed in Brooks's well-researched chronicle, while not as momentous or famous as some, provides a fascinating record of an audacious love affair as well as a significant insight into the early years of Stalin's reign in Russia. In the 1920s, charming Bluet Rabinoff presided over the celebrity-filled salon convened by her husband, famed New York impresario Max Rabinoff. When she fell in love with dashing Marc Cheftel, a physician sent to the U.S. ostensibly on behalf of the Russian Red Cross, she had no idea that he was in fact a master spy, high up in the GPU. Brilliant and ambitious, Cheftel was also an idealist who thought the Bolshevik revolution would banish poverty and anti-Semitism in his country. When he convinced Bluet to divorce her husband, leave her teenage daughter and return to Russia with him, he felt sure that he'd soon be sent to a glamorous post in Europe. Instead, both he and Bluet became hostages to history. Stalin's ruthless ascendancy and his purges of the original Bolshevik conspirators gain a vivid immediacy in Brooks's descriptions of daily life in Moscow during the accelerating reign of terror and the events that sealed Marc's doom. The author's access to documents, letters, survivors of the era and to Bluet Rabinoff herself before she died in 1976 contribute to a gripping narrative. Some may quibble because journalist and nonfiction writer Brooks (The Woman Who Defied Kings) has reconstructed conversations, but there is ample documentation here of a personal tragedy within the larger vortex of cataclysmic betrayal and misery. Agent, Carolyn French. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

New York Times journalist Brooks adds flesh to the framework of academic Soviet history with this true tale of love and passion in early Soviet Russia. During the Russian Revolution, Marc Cheftel, head of the Russian health department, helped the American Friends Famine Relief committee do their work. The Quakers in turn helped him get a visa to come to New York. Once there, Cheftel, who was also an undercover operative for the GPU (forerunner of the KGB), met and fell in love with Bluet Robinoff, the petite French wife of Russian expatriate Max Robinoff. He convinced Bluet to divorce Max and move to Moscow-just in time for collectivization. Marc lived to see his dream of peasant communism deteriorate into the Soviet catastrophe of the 1930s. He died in the feeding frenzy of Stalin's purges, shortly after Bluet's return to America. This book is excellent for both Soviet history experts and novices, as it accurately portrays Soviet history in very understandable terms. Igal Halfin's Terror in My Soul and Bertrand Patenaude's The Big Show in Bololand are good for more information on 1920s Soviet history. Highly recommended for public libraries.-Harry Willems, Southeast Kansas Lib. Syst., Iola (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Part 1 Manhattan, 1928-1930p. 1
Part 2 Marc's Story: Un Medico Benevolop. 89
Part 3 21 Bolshoi Lubiankap. 169
Epiloguep. 271
Author's Notep. 275
Bibliographical Notep. 277
Indexp. 279