The Shoemaker and His Daughter by Conor O’Cleary


The Shoemaker and His Daughter is a rare gem. The book is a mix of family history, strategic geography and  important historic events. It is both easy to read and historically accurate.

It starts with the finding of the grave of the grandfather, while this is a very personal moment, it links into the numbers of casualties and the effects this had on the emerging USSR.

We get to see into life in Grozny, from the point of view of  a displaced Amenian family. The Chechen problem, which still rumbles to this day, is rooted in deep historical injustices and rivalries.

We see how communism and entrepreneurship were experienced. The punishment for a visible offending of the law and it’s long term effects on the family.

We also see an ordinary family over a period eighty years, made extraordinary by solidarity and hard work.

O’Clery was the Moscow correspondent for the Irish Times during the dismantling of the USSR.

He allows us to see the contrast between Moscow and Siberia at that time.

There are family photographs which give the reader a real affection for the people, especially Stanislov and Marietta, the authors in-laws.

If you would like to read modern history but do not like wading through dry facts this is the book which will change your mind, give it this remarkable book a try.


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.


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