Category: Book reviews

The autobiography of Joseph Stalin: A novel – by Richard Lourie

In his bestselling book “Archangel”, Robert Harris creates an entire modern political thriller around Stalin’s great secret — which is revealed only in the second half of the book. And that incredible secret turns out to be … Stalin had a son!
Um, sorry Robert, but for the those of us who know anything at all about the Soviet dictator, this “revelation” had something of the effect of Dr. Evil’s demand that he be paid one million dollars not to destroy the world. In real life, Stalin had two sons, and a daughter.
Perhaps because of this disappointment, I waited a few years before trying another novel which revolved around Stalin’s great secret.

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The silent war – by Frank Falla

German gun emplacement on the north shore of Guernsey.I’ve just come back from a week-long holiday in the Channel Islands, spending time on both Guernsey and Sark. In addition to the rural quiet, spectacular scenery and delicious local food, one attraction for me was to see the one part of the British Isles that came under German Nazi rule during the Second World War. (Pictured: German gun emplacement on Guernsey’s north shore.)

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Red Gold – by Alan Furst

Alan Furst is routinely hailed as possibly the greatest living writer of traditional espionage fiction. He sets his books in exotic times and places — this one, for example, recounts stories of the French resistance and is mostly set in Paris in the early 1940s.

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The Degaev Affair – by Richard Pipes

For some time now I have been a student of the decades long secret war between Russian revolutionaries and the tsarist police. (Attentive readers of this website will be aware that my research culminated a decade ago in a book about the possibility that Stalin had been a tsarist polie agent.) From time to time, new books come out about the Okhrana, though these are usually aimed at academic audiences. Not so Richard Pipes’ 2003 volume, The Degaev Affair: Terror and Treason in Tsarist Russia.

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