The narrator of this book comes to Moscow like a handful before him. as an American graduate student. Soon, however, an inborn restiveness and an almost forgotten family heritage pull him out of the eddies of university life and into the rude, vigorous currents of the life he sees sweeping around him. In Russia, he comes to realize, absolutely everyone you meet has a reveting story to tell. The story he begins to live himself becomes tragic and romantic, painful and adventurous, and it undoubtedly tells us more about Russia seen and felt viscerally from the inside than any other book by a foreigner in our time. This is a Russia we have never read about before-from the frequent romps with Moscow's amazingly complaisant girls to the secret workld of those in trouble with the stern yet quixotic forces of Soviet law. Then deeper feelings take over"first in the case of Alyosha, a ussian Tyll Eulenspiegel, provurer and operator par excellence, who reveals to his new American friend depths and passions that will stay with the visitor long after he loses him in the most painful of fashions. Then there is a passionate love affair with beautiful, maddening quicksliver Anastasia, who for all her vagaries shows the American where love and loyalty should truly lie. Through all of this "fictional non-fiction" are constant illuminations of the great Why of Russian life--how such deep love of the Motherland can flourish amid repression, impoverishment, and iron winter. At last the Western reader understands and moved.