City of Thieves Book Summary - City of Thieves Book explained in key points

City of Thieves summary

David Benioff

Brief summary

City of Thieves is a gripping historical fiction set during the Siege of Leningrad. It follows the journey of two unlikely friends as they embark on a dangerous quest for a dozen eggs in a city torn apart by war.

Give Feedback
Table of Contents

    City of Thieves
    Summary of key ideas

    Survival Amidst Chaos

    In City of Thieves, David Benioff takes us into the heart of the Nazi-encircled Leningrad, where we meet Lev Beniov, a hapless seventeen-year-old Jewish boy. When he's arrested for looting a German paratrooper's corpse, things seem bleak. Lev, however, isn’t facing his fate alone. His cellmate, Kolya, a charismatic, handsome, and sometimes maddeningly casual Red Army deserter, provides company and a stark contrast to Lev’s quiet demeanor.

    Just when they prepare themselves for the worst during their harsh imprisonment, they are given an unusual ultimatum. The prisoners are saved from execution, but at a cost. They are assigned an almost impossible mission - to bring Colonel Grechko, a high-ranking Soviet officer, a dozen eggs for his daughter’s wedding cake within a week. What ensues is a dangerous and action-packed hunt in a city where people are killed for a loaf of bread.

    An Unlikely Bond

    The narrative follows Lev and Kolya as they navigate through treacherous territories, all in the bid to find a dozen eggs in a famished city. Despite their different personalities, Lev’s seriousness and Kolya’s joviality, they form an unexpected bond. Along this journey, they encounter many characters - from partisan resistance fighters to vengeful Nazis - all crafted beautifully by Benioff.

    As their quest becomes more desperate and perilous, we witness Lev’s gradual transformation from a boy to a man. Under Kolya’s tutelage, he learns to take risks, play poker, talk to women, and endure the brutalities of war. Their camaraderie is tested and strengthened by their shared experiences and conflicts.

    The Cruelty & Absurdity of War

    The book successfully portrays the grim and often horrific realities of war, encapsulated in the details of the harsh winters and starvation that plagued Leningrad’s inhabitants. Benioff contrasts this morbidity with lighter moments of humor and camaraderie. Furthermore, the backdrop of war brings light to the paradoxical situations and the absurdity of their quest - searching for eggs in a city where every crumb of bread is a luxury.

    Lev and Kolya’s journey takes a dramatic turn when they stumble across a farmhouse inhabited by a cannibalistic Nazi officer, ‘Abendroth the Einsatz’. In a tense standoff, Lev kills Abendroth in a dueling match, thereby saving the lives of two girls held hostage. They also manage to retrieve the dozen coveted eggs.

    Triumph & Heartbreak

    At the climax of City of Thieves, the unlikely duo manage to return to Leningrad with the eggs, completing their mission. However, on their return, they realize that the wedding has occurred without the cake due to the bride's death amid bombing. The outcome of their quest is bittersweet, underscoring the brutal cost of their survival and the transience of victory in war.

    The book ends with Lev living a long, fulfilling life after the war, but the memories of their heroic and terrifying week linger, as does his undying love for Kolya, who gives his life for their country. In City of Thieves, David Benioff has managed to create a beautifully balanced piece of work that contains just as much humor as it does heartbreak and serves as a stirring testament to human resilience in the face of war.

    Give Feedback
    How do we create content on this page?
    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is City of Thieves about?

    City of Thieves is a gripping wartime novel by David Benioff. Set in besieged Leningrad during World War II, two unlikely companions embark on a perilous mission to find a dozen eggs for a Soviet colonel's daughter's wedding cake. As they navigate the chaos and dangers of the city, they discover courage, friendship, and the resilience of the human spirit.

    Who should read City of Thieves?

    • Fans of historical fiction
    • Readers interested in World War II stories
    • Those who enjoy character-driven narratives

    About the Author

    David Benioff is an American author and screenwriter. He is best known for his novel City of Thieves, which tells the story of two young men during the siege of Leningrad in World War II. In addition to his writing career, Benioff has also achieved success as a television writer and producer, co-creating the hit series Game of Thrones based on George R.R. Martin's novels.

    Categories with City of Thieves

    Book summaries like City of Thieves

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    29 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial