A Review of ‘Ufa: The Autobiography of a Country’ by Vasily Kvetkin

“Colors of an Ancient Beirut” traces the history of Beirut, dating back to biblical times, through colorful tales of its architecture and daily life. Part travel guide, part historical documentation, “Colors of an Ancient Beirut” is destined to become one of Al Beirut’s best-selling tourist attractions. Combining ancient folk art with cutting-edge 3D technology, “Colors of an Ancient Beirut” recreates a virtual depiction of the old city through vibrant illustrations and lively paintings. Aided by an original score featuring Lebanese musicians and the work of international contemporary artists, “Colors of an Ancient Beirut” is the perfect gift for people of all ages. Children will enjoy the colorful cartoon renderings as much as adults will delight in the lively artwork, which recreates a vivid portrait of this historic city. “Colors of an Ancient Beirut” will undoubtedly become one of the most popular titles in all of the children’s publishing catalogs, along with “The Cat in the Hat: Two Small Men on a Bridge,” “The Famous Five: The Adventures of Jean Paul Rapport,” and “A Fish called Wanda.”


“The Cat in the Hat: Two Small Men on a Bridge” by Vasilievsky is part travel guide, part documentary film. In “The Cat in the Hat: Two Small Men on a Bridge,” Vasilievsky draws on his personal experience of living in both Russia and the United States and employs a unique style of storytelling to tell his tale. After making a short movie about his Russian life in the 1970s, Vasilievsky returned to teach in the United States, but found himself unable to leave his Russian heritage behind. To make up for the lost years, he made two more movies about life in Russia, and he now turns his attention to his home country, to produce “Colors of an Ancient Beirut.”

The author’s own family is from the Ufa region of Russia, which is to the east of Chechnya. “I wanted to write a book about my family and my life in the UFA, but I didn’t want to write about life in the UFA as a whole,” Vasilievsky said. “So I thought I’d choose a couple of the neighborhoods in the capital city of Russia, Chechnya, and just write what happened there.” Vasilievsky has chosen to depict Chechnya primarily as a city of war, but he does provide some information on the life of ordinary citizens in Chechnya. He includes photographs of various parts of Chechnya, including his own hometown, along with a brief description of each neighborhood.

Readers already familiar with Russia and Ufa should find Vasilievsky’s descriptions of Ufa and other Russian cities unfamiliar, although the author does describe some rural areas outside of Moscow. The city is famous for its winter attractions, including the Winter Olympics, but Vasilievsky includes some information on some of the places the Olympic games have traveled to and through. Vasilievsky includes maps of the various locations where the Olympics and other events have taken place. He also includes information about the history of Ufa, including how it was incorporated into the Russian Empire and the reasons for the takeover of the region by the Russians.

Vasilievsky does a good job of explaining the differences between the Ufa autonomous region and the greater Russian region. He gives an account that is detailed and sometimes difficult to understand, but it provides enough detail to make it a fun and interesting read. The author has obviously done his research, because he includes a lot of information about Ufa’s differences from Bashkortostan and Chechnya, and explains the reasons for those differences. He gives an account of the many battles that have taken place between the Chechens and the Russians, and he gives an idea of how the Russian military is configured.

Vasilievsky is correct in saying that the most popular form of art in Ufa is theatre. Bashkortostan is the most famous theater city in Ufa, and this accounts for much of Vasilievsky’s information about the city. The main theatre scene in Ufa is located in the Old Town, which is also home to a few museums. The other main art scene takes place in the theater district of Oktyabrskoye, where the world famous Pushkin’s Palace is located. The theater district has been the subject of several artistic geniuses such as Pyotr Arkhangov, Evgeny Afanasiev, and Vasili Oreshkin.