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Most Helpful Favorable Review
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.
Littell's Magnum Opus!!!!
I first encountered Robert Littell's work about 20 years ago with his novel, The Amateur. I 'walked back the cat' to the Defection of A.J. Lewinter and have tried to keep up with his work ever since. The end of the Cold War has, in some respects, has left the spy nove...
I first encountered Robert Littell's work about 20 years ago with his novel, The Amateur. I 'walked back the cat' to the Defection of A.J. Lewinter and have tried to keep up with his work ever since. The end of the Cold War has, in some respects, has left the spy novel languishing, and like NATO, looking for a purpose or a mission. The post-September 11th novel of spies and espionage has yet to be written. That is why Robert Littell's The Company is such a pleasure to read. It is a wonderful nostalgic trip that brings the reader back to the chaos and uncertainty in the post-war years in building the Company during the Cold War. The reader has sense of immediacy in the historical set pieces at the Berlin Station, the Hungarian Uprising,the Bay of Pigs invasion,the 'assassination' of Pope John Paul I, Afghanistan and its consequences,and the 1991 coup against Gorbachev. One knows what's going to happen in these events, nevertheless, Littell's genius style keeps the reader on the edge of his/her seat wanting to know what will happen next. One breezes through the pages without realizing that you've read almost 900 pages.The pacing keeps one glued to the book turning page after page and not wanting the story to end. Littell's other strength in this novel is the seamless blending of fictional and non-fictional characters. The wonderful historical 'walk throughs' from James Jesus Angleton,'Kim' Philby, Nixon, the Kennedy brothers, Gorbachev, Yeltsin and the attempted coup (Mstislav Rostropovich's advice on how to use an AK-47 is memorable), and Vladimir Putin give the story is powerful historical immediacy. The strengths and weaknesses of the fictional and non-fictional characters and the growth of the fictional ones gives one the sense that the Cold War involved human beings as well as ideologies. These human characters are flawed, but not presented as evil incarnate. Perhaps the only 'evil' character is Starik (the old man), the KGB controller of Yevgeney and SASHA, who is portrayed as a blind fanatic for 'the truth', an anti-Semite, and a child molester who dies an ignoble and unheroic death. This wonderful nostalgic trip has a disappointing denoument. This perhaps is the only major weakness in the work as the end of the novel and the end of the Cold War coincide and it leaves the reader languishing and feeling aimless. Perhaps this is Littell's intention. It certainly is historically accurate.
posted by Anonymous on September 12, 2003Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Most Helpful Critical Review
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.
Book started out slow, but it really picks up speed as you read on. The Hungarian uprising chapters were incredible on their own! Really well written.
posted by Anonymous on March 20, 2006Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.