Vladimir Alexandrov's new book The Black Russian (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013) tells the epic and often tragic story of Fredrick Bruce Thomas, an African American born to recently freed slaves, who would go on to make a fortune in Russia as a club owner and entrepreneur.
Mr. Thomas was a pioneer in many respects. He migrated North in search of opportunity decades before the Great Migration. He fled the states in pursuit of greater prospects in Europe before it was fashionable for blacks to do so. He confronted and combated many of the forces that would shape the 20th century - racism, classism, and nativism - yet his story was little known to us until now.