Odessa was the Russian Empire's gateway to the Middle East, its greatest commercial seaport and home to one of the most vibrant Jewish communities in all of Europe. Created as a model of enlightenment by Catherine the Great, and developed by colourful adventurers such as Grigory Potemkin, Jose de Ribas and Armand de Richelieu, Odessa became a magnet for the artistic and the ambitious - from Alexander Pushkin and Isaac Babel to Zionist activist Vladimir Jabotinsky and immunologist Ilya Mechnikov. Odessa's reputation for nurturing feisty dissenters, artful raconteurs and good-natured crooks cemented its place among Europe's great cities. But in the twentieth century, pogroms devastated the Jewish community; the Russian civil war brought refugees and new rulers, the Bolsheviks; and during the Second World War, Romanian occupiers killed tens of thousands of Jews in one of the untold episodes of the Holocaust. Drawing on a wealth of original source material, historian Charles King paints a rich portrait of Odessa through the lives of its geniuses and villains, revealing how a diverse, cosmopolitan city turned against itself during the Holocaust - but also how Odessa's dream has survived in a diaspora reaching all the way to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.