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Empire & Odyssey : The Brynners in Far East Russia and Beyond


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This "engrossing book is a sprawling, epic-size chronicle of the lives of these four men, a globetrotting family saga that captures our imagination and paints a vivid picture of life in Russia before, during, and after the Revolution. A fascinating mix of personal and cultural history."
-- Booklist
"In his riveting new book, the inimitable Rock Brynner is in fine voice, tracking the Brynner family odyssey over the centuries, from Vladivostok through castles and zinc mines, along the Trans-Siberian Railroad, into his father's dressing rooms and Muhammad Ali's, and ending up back where his family started out. Blessed with more lives than a cat and a historian's sharp sense of place and memory, Brynner spins amazing tales of princes and rogues - almost all of them, just as amazingly, his kith and kin."
-- Prof. Sean Wilentz, author, "The Rise of American Democracy"
"Rock Brynner is a brilliant, highly educated, born storyteller with an exciting true story to tell."
-- Gov. Mario Cuomo, author, "Why Lincoln Matters"
"Yul Brynner was among the most powerful actors of all time. Rock Brynner is one of the most exhilarating story-tellers I have ever read."
-- James Earl Jones
"Dr. Rock Brynner is a gentleman and a scholar, and during my championship years he was always a true friend and bodyguard."
-- Muhammad Ali
"The enthralling story, across four generations, of a singular dynasty of fathers and sons, all of them gifted, dynamic, complicated and driven, all of them firmly embedded in the history of their times."
-- Elizabeth Frank, novelist and Pulitzer-prize winning biographer
"Empire and Odyssey" is the "Forsyte Saga" of the Russian diaspora, anabsorbing story of an extraordinary family adapting to changing times, of ambition, talent, egotism, loyalty, estrangement, and betrayal, set against a tumultuous background of imperial expansion, war, revolution, exile, and homecoming. It captures the characters Jules, Boris, and Yul with candor, humor, and poignancy. Rock Brynner's curiosity and sensibilities, cultivated no doubt over the course of personal triumphs and travails, have attuned him to lyrical, tragic, ironic, and comic melodies, so that he can feel--and convey--the burden of Russia's past, of Russia's tragedies."
-- Prof. John J. Stephan, author of "The Russian Far East: A History"
"Empire and Odyssey manages to retell vast stretches of complex Russian history so that they become comprehensible to non-specialists. This is not only a gripping tale of an incredibly talented family, but also these chosen family members' reflection of life and everyday culture, whether in business or the arts. International centers such as Shanghai, Paris, and New York spring to time-specific life in well-written vignettes. . . . with a clear sense for the precisely necessary choice of expression. There are emotions, but not sentimentally so, and irony, but no sarcastic mud-slinging. Most descendants of those cast out by the Soviet upheavals are unlikely--perhaps unable or unwilling--to examine Russian life without negative distortions. This book speaks to the invaluable, healing treasure of genuine, human bridges beyond the morass of politics and time-old grief."
-- Birgitta Ingemanson, Professor of Russian Culture, Washington State University
"A four generation saga-featuring one of the world's sexiest movie stars-wouldusually signal a fluffy beach read, but the story of the Brynner patriarchs is too historically complex and fascinating to fall into that genre. . . . An enthralling family chronicle."
-- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"As "Empire and Odyssey" reveals, Yul Brynner had the most fascinating mixture imaginable in his DNA, which accounts for the intriguing and glamorous persona that emerged. . . . In recounting the saga of four generations of the Brynner dynasty, Rock Brynner takes us from mid 19th-century Switzerland where Jules Bryner, the family patriarch, was born, to Vladivostok in Far Eastern Russia, where he settled and prospered until the Communist Revolution. The Brynner family then followed a typical trajectory of the Russian diaspora - China, Paris, London, New York and Los Angeles with various detours along the way. The odyssey finally concludes with Rock's return to Vladivostok, made possible by the end of the Cold War. It is a compelling story. . . . With this book, Rock Brynner has done [his forebears] proud." --" The Washington Post"

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