THE BLACK RUSSIAN
This remarkable biography chronicles the life of Frederick Thomas, a black man born in 1872 in Mississippi to two former slaves. He embarked on an incredible life journey that finally led him to Moscow, where he became rich. After the revolution he rebuilt his life in Constantinople.
Although widely known during his lifetime, Frederick Thomas is now virtually forgotten. The few references to him that have been published during the past eighty years are all brief and often wrong. Vladimir Alexandrov researched Frederick Thomas’s life and times exhaustively in archives and libraries throughout the United States, as well as in Russia, France, England, and Turkey, and found a great deal of information about him. Frederick Thomas is fascinating because of the extraordinary way he escaped the constraints of his humble origins and being black in the United States, because of how his life went from rags to riches to ruin not once but twice as a consequence of revolutionary transformations in two exotic societies, and because of the contrasting roles that race played in his life abroad--from being invisible in Russia, to returning to haunt him in Turkey, when he most needed help and the
Vladimir Alexandrov received a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Princeton. He taught Russian literature and culture at Harvard before moving to Yale, where he is B.E. Bensinger Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures. He is the author of books on Bely, Nabokov and Tolstoy, and has published numerous articles on various other Russian writers and topics.