The New Penguin Russian Course
by Nicholas J. Brown
Release Date: December, 1996
It's easy to see from the reviews for this book that there are more than one type of language learner. If you want Russian spoon-fed to you, forget it and learn Italian, French, etc. Russian only becomes usable when you have all of the inflected endings organized and stored in your head. And the only way to accomplish that is by studying with some degree of passion.
I used this book along with the 3 pimsleur sets on russian and now have a very strong foundation to proceed into advanced studies. This book has a good mix of grammar and texts to translate. I never felt overwhelmed. That said, I progressed on a two-steps-forward and one-step-back basis. You will too if you want to learn Russian, so don't sweat it. It's normal. I was relieved when I got to chapter 10 or so and the book said something about "you have now met X number of words and have probably forgot most of them. That's ok. Just learn them again and it will get easier."
My one regret with the book: I wish there was a workbook for more exercises. The exercises in the book are good, but I had to make up my own to really become accomplished at slinging those endings the way I wanted.
Stay away from this book if you are looking for nice phrases for travelers. This book will teach you only if you put the right kind of effort into your studies.
I have dozens of books on Russian and this is the one that taught me what I needed to know.
The Russian language presents a lot of difficulties at the outset for beginners, even if you have already studied languages before. I first wanted to study Russian three years ago, and was constantly trying and giving up because of the endings and the verbal aspect, among other things. I had already gained a fair vocabulary, a fair mastery of noun endings, and an understanding of aspect. But when I bought this book, everything became very non-threatening. I easily learned a lot of small grammatical details, as well as ones that baffled me for years. All verbs are given in both aspect forms, and noun irregularities are shown. This did not discourage me, but rather made me want to lern the irregular stuff to enhance my correctness.
To all those fascinated with Russia and it's language, but cannot seem to get it right and are discouraged, fear not. This book will lift your spirits and show you that Russian is not that hard of a language afterall! I have also found studying Russian helpful in decoding the seemingly totally-irregular grammars of Polish and other Slavic languages. Knowing Russian will help you learn about ten more of these languages. Buy this book, grab a hold, and you'll soon be on friendly terms with Russian!