ImagePlease join us in the Grand Salon for a talk by Vladimir Alexandrov, B.E. Bensinger Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale University, who will be discussing his latest book, The Black Russian. 

The Black Russian is the story of Frederick Bruce Thomas, born in 1872, the son of former slaves. After the Civil War, his parents became prosperous land owners in the Mississippi Delta. He spent his youth on his family’s farm until a white planter tried to steal it. When his father was brutally murdered, he left the south and his home forever. 

In Chicago and New York, he trained as a waiter. Moving to London and then across Europe, Frederick settled in color-blind Moscow, changing his name to Fyodor Fyodorovich Tomas. Eventually he became the owner of the open-air entertainment garden the Aquarium, which was filled with variety theaters and restaurants. After opening the acclaimed theater complex Maxim, he became a millionaire. 

 The Bolshevik Revolution forced him to flee to Odessa, and from there he barely escaped with his family to Constantinople. With no money, he managed to start over again. His adaptability and aptitude for creating restaurants and entertainment spaces against all odds made him rich again until his luck finally ran out, and his creditors caught up with him. Thrown into debtor’s prison, he died in Constantinople in 1928. (Grove/Atlantic, 2013)

This event is sponsored by the Yale Club of France and the Princeton Club of France.