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Friends and Comrades

How Quakers helped Russians to survive famine and epidemic

by Sergei Nikitin (Author)

A fascinating and deeply researched account of how the Quakers helped ordinary Russians through one of the grimmest times in their history. In an appallingly difficult environment of war, civil war, and then man-made famine, Quaker doggedness and commitment overcame official suspicion and obstruction to bring shelter, medical support, employment and ultimately food to hundreds of thousands who would otherwise have died. The clearest testimony to the value of their work is how slow even the brutal and secretive Soviet regime was to bring it to an end. And the questions asked in the West then about how best to care for the subjects of an odious regime resonate down to today. ” – Sir Tony Brenton, British Ambassador to Russia 2004-2008 – ” “Friends and Comrades” recounts the humanitarianism of the British and American Quakers in Russia a century ago, during the turbulent years of war, revolution, and famine. Sergei Nikitin tells the story in vivid detail, quoting liberally from a wealth of diaries, letters, memoirs, and archival documents. The focal point is the Great Famine of 1921–1923, when the Quakers brought their lifesaving resources and dedication to Samara province on the Volga, the epicenter of the famine. Nikitin’s narrative is unblinking, not least when he discusses the often fraught relations between the Friends, who sought to remain true to their values and ideals in Russia, and the Comrades in power who sought to exploit them for political advantage.” -Bertrand Patenaude, Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution- “Sergei Nikitin has written an exemplary account, vivid and well-researched, of the Quaker relief mission to Russia. From the early years of World War One through to the traumas of Bolshevism and famine. A welcome addition to the history of the time.” – Professor Robert Service, Emeritus Professor of Russian History. St Antony’s College. University of Oxford.