The Revolutionist

The Revolutionist

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by Robert Littell

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An epic saga of the Soviet Union's brutal first decades-from The New York Times bestselling master of espionage.

Hailed as "the American le Carré," Robert Littell presents an ambitious novel about star-crossed idealist Alexander Til. When Til returns from America to Petrograd on the eve of the October Revolution in 1917, it is to put his life

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An epic saga of the Soviet Union's brutal first decades-from The New York Times bestselling master of espionage.

Hailed as "the American le Carré," Robert Littell presents an ambitious novel about star-crossed idealist Alexander Til. When Til returns from America to Petrograd on the eve of the October Revolution in 1917, it is to put his life on the line in the hope of transforming Russia. But after witnessing the birth of a new era, he watches the people, and his own ideals, trampled by the rise of Josef Stalin-with whom Til is destined to have a shattering confrontation. Taking readers from the storming of the Winter Palace to the nightmares of the gulag, The Revolutionist is a masterwork of historical fiction.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A clever mix of history and fiction, carefully researched and vigorously written, this hefty novel focuses on a Jewish idealist, Alexander Til, who returns to his native Russia from the U.S. to participate in the Bolshevik Revolution, only to witness its brutal betrayal by Stalin. In addition, his best friend assumes a high position in the secret police. Til falls in love with Lili, the sister of Prince Yusupov, killer of Rasputin. He cares for her daughter when Lili falls victim to the regime and finally survives imprisonment and torture to become a film translator, a post that brings him fatefully close to Stalin, a keen movie buff himself. Vividly portrayed are such famous events as Lenin's arrival at Petrograd's Finland Station, the storming of the Winter Palace and Stalin's Purges; and such historical characters as Trotsky, Tsar Nicholas, Kerensky, Beria, Khrushchev and poet Osip Mandelstam (under the name Ronzha) whose courageous poem attacking Stalin stimulates opposition to the dictator while endangering his own life and the lives of his friends. This is an imaginative, stirring tale, hard to put down whether the reader's principal interest is history or fiction. Littell wrote The Amateur and The Sisters. 50,000 first printing; $75,000 ad/promo. (May)
Library Journal
In 1917 Alexander Til, his stepbrother, Leon, and Atticus Tuohy leave New York City and the grinding life of the working-class poor for a better life: Til and Tuohy for the revolution in Russia, Leon for Palestine. Some 35 years later they meet again at Stalin's death. In the intervening years Til and Tuohy have fought and followed first Trotsky, then Lenin, and finally Stalin. Gradually Til's youthful vigor and passion yield to despair as his friends, his great love, his family, and his belief are destroyed by the party leadership. Tuohy rises as Til sinks. Fictional characters interact with real ones, who speak from history as well as imagination. Not as suspenseful as Littell's The Sisters, perhaps, but a sweeping and well-researched chronicle of a dream gone wrong.Ann Donovan, Central Washington Univ. Lib., Ellensburg

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Robert Littell was born, raised, and educated in New York. A former Newsweek editor specializing in Soviet affairs, he left journalism in 1970 to write fiction full time. Connoisseurs of the spy novel have elevated Robert Littell to the genre's highest ranks, and Tom Clancy wrote that “if Robert Littell didn’t invent the spy novel, he should have.” He is the author of fifteen novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Company and Legends, the 2005 L.A. Times Book Award for Best Thriller/Mystery. He currently lives in France.

Brief Biography

Martel, France
Date of Birth:
January 8, 1935
Place of Birth:
Brooklyn, New York
B.A., Alfred University, 1956

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The Revolutionist 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robert Littell, and author whose name was found more than once as a New York Times bestselling author, has delivered here a brilliantly researched piece of work. This fictional novel focuses primarily on the proceedings of the infamous Russian Revolutions of 1917. The story focuses on a young fictional man named Alexander Til, the supposed 'grandson' of a famous former revolutionist who aided in the killing of a former Tsar. Til takes to being called 'Zander', and the story begins in early 1900's Manhatten, and proceeds to Russia at the time of the Revolution, Civil War, World War II, and finally to the controversial death of Stalin. In terms of historical knowledge, Littell is outstanding in his factual finesse. Of course, facts and names have been altered to create a medium for a story to be written upon, but most of the characters and events are true to time, and are delicately researched and expressed. The novel commands a high level of interest and involvement, and will keep the reader hooked, as Littell is very capable of producing a thrilling and suspenseful novel, as seen with his other novels such as 'The Amateur' and 'The Defection of A.J. LeWinter.' Some of the fictional characters in Littell's novel leave a bit to be desired. Although many are very appropriately described and placed in coherence to the overall story setting and mood, many never gain notoriety due to a lack of building. Only a few of the characters are explored before their deaths or dismissals, and it hurts the story. Littell's opinion of some communist leaders, such as Stalin, is very clear. Around the halfway point of the novel, Stalin assumes the role of the key villian, with other characters taking up sides as either courageous defiants or backstabbing traitors. Zander remains the protagonist throughout the novel. The novel is of ideal length, and almost all the parts are well rounded as stages of Zander's life. There does not seem to be any portions of the novel that are rushed; in fact, Littell seems to take his time describing the various passages of time. Some of the time the novel skips aheads months or years at a time, but the time lost is explained in short captions featured at the start of each 'book,' with the novel being divided into four books. Overall, this novel is a sorely unknown and underrated thriller which deserves more recognition that it recieved, and this reader is glad that he stumbled across it in the library. This novel is most likely written primarily for history enthusiasts, and then the average thriller reader, and is quite long. Do not pick up this book looking for a standard adventure novel that everyone can appreciate, this novel requires at least a small amount of knowledge dealing with the Russian Revolution to be fully enjoyed. It is always a good read if one is looking to learn something about the Russian Revolution as well. Enjoy!