September 15, 2011 Odessa: "City of Dreams" Is Subject of Book Discussion

Author Writes of “Genius and Death” in Russian City Created by Catherine the Great

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

Odessa was the Russian Empire’s gateway to the Middle East when Catherine the Great created this port city on the Black Sea as a model of enlightenment.

Georgetown University professor Charles King recreates this world in his historical account, “Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams” (W.W. Norton, 2011). King will discuss and sign his work in a Books & Beyond program on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at noon in the Mary Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. This event, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the European Division. King drew on the Library’s collections in researching his book.

Odessa was not only Russia’s greatest commercial seaport, it was also home to one of the most vibrant Jewish communities in all of Europe. When Mark Twain visited in 1867, he found its mix of nationalities and religions -- Jews and Russians, Ukrainians and Greeks, Italians and Germans -- to be America in miniature. But in the 20th century, pogroms, or violent riots, devastated the Jewish community of Odessa. Tens of thousands of Jews were killed.

Charles King is a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University and the author of four books on Eastern Europe, including “The Black Sea: A History.”

King’s book is also the subject of a discussion on Facebook. The Books & Beyond Book Club is available at Here readers can discuss books, the authors of which have appeared or will appear in this series. The site also offers links to webcasts of these events and asks readers to talk about what they have seen and heard.

Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to "stimulate public interest in books and reading," the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress ( has become a major national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally. The center provides leadership for 52 affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading-promotion partners and plays a key role in the Library’s annual National Book Festival. It also oversees the Library’s website and administers the Library’s Young Readers Center.


PR 11-168
ISSN 0731-3527