One Life, One Kopeck by Walter Duranty

One Life, One Kopeck by Walter Duranty – is a fiction book published in 1937. It’s rather dark and I gave it only 2 stars. As I am studying Duranty and have a very low opinion of him I might be biased, but I don’t think anyone reading this book today would go beyond 3 stars. It’s unrealistic and that’s the main issue with it.

One Life, One Kopeck by Walter Duranty

Duranty fancied himself a great fiction writer and he was not. He wrote nice and engaging articles (not talking about the factual truth of them, just of style), but his fiction is not as good for some reason. The story seems unnecessarily dark, while the main character’s development is incredibly unrealistic. Also, in the book Ukrainians or Cossacks are presented as brutal and cruel. This kind of details, on Ukrainians, could have been easily missed by readers who did not pay specific attention to that detail. But, as my dissertation looks at exactly that I paid close attention to that very minor detail in the book.

Presenting himself as someone intimately familiar with russian culture, Duranty was keen to mention Dostoevsky, who he tries to imitate in this book, considering its title. One life, one kopeck is a russian proverb showing the low value they placed on human life. The idea was good, as events were happening in WWI and russian revolution, but it was not made as good as it could have been. Overall, despite the story being easy to read, it’s not good enough to recommend. On top of that, it’s a hard book to get hold of.

One Life, One Kopeck by Walter Duranty

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 2/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: no
Published by: Simon and Schuster, New York
Year it was published: 1937
Format: Hardcover (mine was a scanned copy)
Genre(s): Fiction
Pages: 333

About the author: Walter Duranty was a British-American journalist, born in Liverpool in 1884. He died in 1957 in US. He worked as moscow bureau chief of The New York Times for fourteen years from 1921. In 1932, Duranty received a Pulitzer Prize for a series of reports about the Soviet Union, eleven of which were published in June 1931 and 2 at the end of the year. He published a few books, both fiction and non-fiction.
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2 thoughts on “One Life, One Kopeck by Walter Duranty”

  • I’ll admit I’ve been influenced by your reviews and have no desire to read anything by this author. But, it’s unlikely anything by Duranty would have ever ended up on my TBR list anyway.
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    • His first non-fiction books were interestingly written, but his style took a down turn in the 1940s, more similar to his fiction books. His fiction is not good, which is surprising for a journalist. In my view, his best book was a memoir-history book, which was reprinted many times when it was published, but unless someone needs to read it for research, there is no other reason to read it now, 90 years later.

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