The Black Russian is the incredible story of Frederick BruceThomas, born in 1872 to former slaves who became prosperous farmers inMississippi. A rich white planter's attempt to steal their land forced them toflee to Memphis, where Frederick's father was brutally murdered. After leavingthe South and working as a waiter and valet in Chicago and Brooklyn, Fredericksought greater freedom in London, then crisscrossed Europe, and--in a highlyunusual choice for a black American at the time--went to Russia in 1899. Becausehe found no color line there, Frederick made Moscow his home. He renamedhimself Fyodor Fyodorovich Tomas, married twice, acquired a mistress, and tookRussian citizenship. Through his hard work, charm, and guile he became one ofthe city's richest and most famous owners of variety theaters and restaurants. Butthe Bolshevik Revolution ruined him, and he barely escaped with his life andfamily to Constantinople in 1919. Starting from scratch, he made a secondfortune by opening celebrated nightclubs that introduced jazz to Turkey.However, the long arm of American racism, the xenophobia of the new TurkishRepublic, and Frederick's own extravagance landed him in debtors' prison. Hedied in Constantinople in 1928.