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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, ...
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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.
Posted January 11, 2005
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!
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