Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story-How One Man and His Piano Transformed the Cold War


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6.0 X 1.7 X 9.1 inches | 1.55 pounds
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About the Author

Nigel Cliff is a historian, biographer, and translator. His first book, The Shakespeare Riots, was a finalist for the National Award for Arts Writing and was chosen as one of the Washington Post's best books of the year. His second book, The Last Crusade: The Epic Voyages of Vasco da Gama, was a New York Times Notable Book. His most recent book is a translation and edition of The Travels by Marco Polo. A former film and theater critic for the London Times and contributor to The Economist, he writes for a range of publications, including the New York Times Book Review. A Fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford, he lives in London.


"With his gold-medal performance in Moscow, Van Cliburn added a human face to the Cold War...A nuanced account."--New York Times Book Review
"Absorbing...Cliff is at home in Texan, American, Russian, political and piano cultures. . . . a solid history of a most remarkable young man caught at a most remarkable time.--Dallas Morning News
"Brings to life Van Cliburn's unexpected triumph and its continuing implications for Soviet-American relations through the end of the Cold War... an engaging account of an extraordinary historical moment."--Shelf Awareness
"Cliburn in Russia offers a fascinating perspective on a decade of nuclear tests, espionage schemes and efforts to close the missile gap. This story is to the Cold War what ping-pong diplomacy was to President Nixon's opening to China. It is both entertaining and illuminating, and Cliff tells it beautifully."--Wall Street Journal
"A beautifully done biography of one of the Cold War's most famous and unlikely characters..."--Boston Globe "Best Book of 2016"
"The newest biography on the life of Van Cliburn is a masterpiece ...As an account of the political climate and cultural events that the genius musician found himself in as a young man, MOSCOW NIGHTS may long stand as an enthralling resource for historians, audiophiles, and the general public alike."--Fort Worth Weekly
"Cliff... successfully evokes Cliburn's intuitive musicianship."--New Yorker
"Astonishing... an engaging, richly detailed account of a remarkable man."--Christian Science Monitor
"Cliff's authentic depiction of life during the cold war transports us into a sinister bygone age, while insightful descriptions provide a rare glimpse of [Cliburn's] sometimes fragile mindset...Cliff's vivid retelling of the dramatic story and its aftermath will have readers perched on the edge of their seat."--The Lady
"Part musical biography, part nostalgic look at the hula-hoop era and part Cold War history, MOSCOW NIGHTS strikes the right chord in all respects."--BookPage
"Essential reading for anyone interested in Cliburn-or in the cultural history of the Cold War."--Terry Teachout, Commentary
"A thrilling delight...compulsively readable...It's Vanya all the way in a biography for music lovers, Cold War devotees, and all readers seeking a true feel-great story."--Booklist (starred review)
"Cliff brilliantly weaves together the politics, personalities, and pianism...A well-researched, fascinating look at a special relationship between Van Cliburn and the U.S.S.R."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A sympathetic yet rounded portrait of the pianist...Highly recommended for readers interested in music (especially classical music and the piano) and the history of the Cold War."--Library Journal (starred review)
"A rousing, well-researched biography... Throughout the author vividly reprises major historical events...Sweeping history combines with a sensitive rendering of Cliburn's extraordinary passion."--Kirkus, Starred Review
"[Cliff's] fresh perspective, combined with deep research and a genuine gift for narrative, restores a neglected chapter of American musical and political history to vivid--and contemporaneously relevant life."--Madison Searle, Texas Music
"An elegant, insightful and ultimately definitive account of one of the 20th century's most compelling events, and the extraordinary artist and person at the heart of it."--Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Houston Chronicle
"Nigel Cliff... has written a freshly sourced account of these momentous Moscow nights. He places them aptly at the heart of the nuclear conflict and poignantly in the personal odyssey of a lanky, gay pianist from a small prairie town who never wanted to do much except play Russian music."--The Economist