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A most unusual endorsement from Dr. Yury Zaitsev

I may be one the greatest fans of the New York Times newspaper fans in the history of the world. Between print and digital subscriptions, I’ve been reading it every day since I was about 14 (and that’s a long, long time ago!). But, it seems every time I read a story about Russia, the NYT feels obligated to accent the negative, either directly or indirectly via something as subtle as story selection and adjacency.

I’m not a diplomat, a historian or an intellectual. I’m just the son of a Bronx butcher and a New York Telephone Company operator who somehow  wound up devoting three years to creating a  historical narrative (translation: based on true story with plausible embellishments) about the life and loves of a most extraordinary Russian teenager who became the most successful female fighter pilot in the history of the world…during a time when Russia was a distinctly man’s world. Along the way I meet many generous, kind and compassionate Russians who still wonder why things are the way they are between two democracies. This blog is devoted to them.

It’s also a thank you to my friend, support, and cultural advisor, Dr. Yury Zaitsev, Director of the Russian Cultural Centre in Washington D.C., for his kind words about the project. Hope you enjoy reading his note. I’m not sure many Americans with absolutely no Russian ancestry have ever wandered down this path.

Here’s the endorsement, and the full text below:

To Whom It May Concern

The primary mission of the Russian Cultural Centre in Washington D.C. is to increase mutual respect and understanding between our respective nations by supporting a broad variety of cross-cultural events and initiatives. With this in mind we would like to make you aware of one of the more unique projects we have ever endorsed.

An American author, M.G. Crisci, a passionate man with absolutely no Russian ancestry, has written and published (in collaboration with two Russian women) a tender and interesting coming-of-age story about Muscowvite Lilia Litvyak, the world’s first female fighter pilot.  The book, entitled Call Sign, White Lily, sheds light on her humanitarian interests, her friends, and her deep love for her commanding officer, the handsome Alexi Solomatin. It also provides approachable insights into many important Russian customs and traditions.

Unfortunately, history has not treated Lilia kindly. Her plane and its remains were not recovered for 37 years. It was not until 1990 President Mikhail Gorbachev  finally named Lilia a Hero of the Soviet Union, our country’s highest military honor at the time. And, so with all the societal changes within and around the Federation of Russia, current generations know only bits and pieces of her live, her loves, her deeds. Also, Lilia is virtually unknown among Americans.

Mr. Crisci’s book—in both English and Russian–simply and accurately depicts the extraordinary resolve of the Russian people during the darkest moment in its history; a moment neither we and Mr. Crisci pray the world will never forget.


Yury Zaytsev

The Representative of the
Rossotrudnichestvo in the U.S.,
The Head of the Russian Cultural Centre

DATE: Feb.15.2012 | CATEGORY: Archived