I was not really familiar with the works of Shostakovich, but having been to Saint Petersburg several times and speaking with people about the siege of Leningrad, I thought the book would provide an interesting read. It more than delivered on this and I found it hard to put down. The photographs contained in this book are truly fantastic and not just a bunch of blurry indistinguishable ones. The story was both fascinating and moving, while at the same time giving me a new level of respect and appreciation for the residents of Leningrad, while showing how despicable the communist leaders truly were.
It was also eye opening to learn about how this seventh symphony was played all over the world and universally understood. Even the Nazi soldiers (some of them) when they heard this symphony being played on loud speakers throughout the city understood that they would never be able to win this city, while also understanding that rather than the subhuman Slavs that they had been told lived there by Hitler that only the strongest and most human of humans could produce such music after such a prolonged siege and period of starvation.
I had a SPB resident tell me this past summer about her father as a child and his evacuation from Leningrad during the siege. She spoke to me about the dangerous trip across the lake in the middle of winter. To then read about this "Road of Life" within the book in great detail, brought the earlier story I heard into much sharper detail.
It was a good book that I hated to see end, although it is not a short one. After reading this book I bought the symphony to listen to and found the whole experience very enlightening after understanding the circumstances that surrounded its birth.