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3.0 

The Brothers

By Masha Gessen
The Brothers by Masha Gessen digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

National Book Award winner Masha Gessen tells an important story for our era: How the American Dream went wrong for two immigrants, and the nightmare that resulted.

On April 15, 2013, two homemade bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston marathon, killing three people and wounding more than 264 others. In the ensuing manhunt, Tamerlan Tsarnaev died, and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, was captured and ultimately charged on thirty federal counts. Yet long after the bombings and the terror they sowed, after all the testimony and debate, what we still haven’t learned is why. Why did the American Dream go so wrong for two immigrants? How did such a nightmare come to pass?

Acclaimed Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen is uniquely endowed with the background, access, and talents to tell the full story. An immigrant herself, who came to the Boston area with her family as a teenager, she returned to the former Soviet Union in her early twenties and covered firsthand the transformations that were wracking her homeland and its neighboring regions. It is there that the history of the Tsarnaev brothers truly begins, as descendants of ethnic Chechens deported to Central Asia in the Stalin era. Gessen follows the family in their futile attempts to make a life for themselves in one war-torn locale after another and then, as new émigrés, in the looking-glass, utterly disorienting world of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Most crucially, she reconstructs the struggle between assimilation and alienation that ensued for each of the brothers, incubating a deadly sense of mission. And she traces how such a split in identity can fuel the metamorphosis into a new breed of homegrown terrorist, with feet on American soil but sense of self elsewhere.

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7 Reviews

3.0
“We read this for our True Crime Book Club. I'm only giving it 2 stars, because compared with other books we've read for the club, this one wasn't on the same level. Gessen's writing was strong and powerful. Her narrative drew me in to the story of the Tsarnaev's life, their struggles, their triumphs, their hopes and dreams. I had two major problems with the book. 1.) I felt like Gessen didn't have a clear focus of what she was trying to convey. And that leads to 2.) the final chapters of the book, with conspiracy theories, don't seem to gel with the rest of the narrative. If her goal was to write about why Tamerlan and Dzhokhar commit the Boston bombing, I honestly think we have to accept that when it comes to killers and terrorists, sometimes there isn't a concrete why. For rational people to try analyzing an irrational thought process will never yield a conclusive why. We can maybe come to limited understanding and empathy. I think building the history and background of the Tsarnaevs in relation to the Russian and Chechnya conflict, immigration policy, and the national mood after September 11, may have been trying to establish the limited understanding and empathy we could have with the brothers. But for me, delving into the conspiracy theories distracted from the narrative of the book itself. And discredited its writer, in a way. I was left with more questions than answers. What was the relationship between Tamerlan and Dzhokhar? We are lead to believe Tamerlan was the "ring master" and Dzhokhar the younger brother going along with the plot. But, we know very little about their actual day-to-day relationship to support this belief. How did this plot come to take place? When were they discussing it? Where did they make the bombs? To me, I could have done without the conspiracy theories, and more research on answering these questions.”
“Meh. Not sure what I was hoping for, but it wasn’t this.”

About Masha Gessen

Masha Gessen is a Russian-American journalist who is the author of several books, most recently the national bestseller The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (Riverhead, 2012) and Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot (Riverhead, 2014).  Her work has appeared in  the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The New York Times,  The New York Review of Books, Slate, and many other publications, and has received numerous awards, most recently the 2013 Media for Liberty Award. She has served as the editor of several publications and as director of Radio Liberty’s Russia Service. She lives in New York.

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