The Black Russian by Vladimir Alexandrov - Launch Event: Talk and Party at Pushkin House

  • 05 Jun 2013
  • 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
  • Pushkin House, 5a Bloomsbury Square, WA1A
A launch event for
"The Black Russian" 
by Vladimir Alexandrov


Wednesday, 5 June 2013
6:30 - 8:30 pm
Pushkin House
5a Bloomsbury Square, WA1A

(This event is free but registration is essential!)


About the story:

Born the son of slaves in America’s Deep South, Frederick Bruce Thomas escaped the stifling racism of his native land to pursue a dream of freedom, wealth and happiness that took him across Europe in the early twentieth century. Spanning continents, wars and revolution, his life story is as colourful as it is improbable. He is The Black Russian.

Frederick Bruce Thomas was born in 1872 to former slaves who became prosperous farmers in Mississippi. When his father was brutally murdered, the teenaged Frederick fled the Deep South and headed for New York City where he worked as a waiter and valet.

Deploying charm, charisma and cunning, he emigrated to Europe, criss-crossing the continent to find employment as a multilingual waiter in locations as diverse as London and Leipzig, Venice and Vienna, before settling in Moscow in 1899. There, he married twice, acquired a mistress and became one of the cities wealthiest and most famous restaurateurs and nightclub owners. But then came the shock of the Bolshevik revolution. He and his family were forced to flee Russia and headed to Constantinople, where, ever resourceful, he reinvented himself afresh. He opened nightclubs that introduced jazz to Turkey. But Frederick’s luck was finally running out: the long arm of American racism and his own extravagance landed him in prison in 1927, after which death came swiftly.

Written with a novelist’s verve, The Black Russian is both the extraordinary story of the most unexpected of heroes, and a tour of the changing political and cultural landscape of the early twentieth century.


About Vladimir Alexandrov:

Born and raised in New York to a Russian émigré family, Vladimir Alexandrov is Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale University and the author of books on Nabokov and Tolstoy. See more at


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