Russian-Jewish writer Isaak Babel’s collection of stories, Red Cavalry, comes close to perfection in many ways. In terms of theme, tone, pacing, and momentum, Babel gets everything right.
The collection follows the exploits of a Cossack cavalry unit in its fight against the Poles. Although war features heavily in the stories, it is merely the focal point of the action. Babel takes characters from diverse backgrounds, experiences, political and religious stances and shades, and gives them a voice in his tales.
It is no wonder that Babel did not survive Stalin. A mind and creatively so vast and encompassing could never fit into an ideology no matter how broadly defined.