Sinner Saint

The Sinner and the Saint by Kevin Birmingham

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for The Sinner and the Saint:

Hard to feel bad about your own life when you read about Dostoevsky.

Quick synopsis:

A biography of Fyodor Dostoevsky as he writes Crime and Punishment with inspiration from a notorious French criminal.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

On page 225, Kevin Birmingham pulls out the term “pettifogger” to malign someone. I don’t know if Birmingham or Dostoevsky first said it, but it means a bad lawyer. This has been your vocabulary lesson for today and you are welcome.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

When you were exiled to Siberia back in the day, you may have been forced to walk there. It could literally take you years to get to wherever you were exiled.

My Take on The Sinner and the Saint:

Let’s get this out of the way. If you don’t remember Crime and Punishment or never read it, you will still like this book. I would assume it might enhance the book if you have, but I don’t even remember reading it and I fared fine. Be warned, there is an introduction which lays out all the prevailing philosophies of Dostoevsky’s time. Don’t worry, this is just Birmingham setting the stage. I wouldn’t read a philosophy book, and this is thankfully not one.

Kevin Birmingham writes a biography of the writer Fyodor Dostoevsky and a shorter biography of French murderer Pierre-Francois Lacenaire. Lacenaire’s story planted the seed which would become one of literature’s greatest works. He was a very sick dude, by the way.

Dostoevsky’s life is…. really sad. He’s unlucky, self-destructive, and yet an amazing writer as time has proven. His life isn’t all sad, but I won’t ruin the good parts. This book is a good journey.


A very interesting book which takes some surprising turns. A must read. Buy it here!

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