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Archangel [Format Kindle]

Robert Harris
4.7 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)

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To choose one's victims, to prepare one's plans minutely, to slake an implacable vengeance, and then to go to bed . . . there is nothing sweeter in the world.
--J. V. Stalin, in conversation with Kamenev and Dzerzhinsky

Olga Komarova of the Russian Archive Service, Rosarkhiv, wielding a collapsible pink umbrella, prodded and shooed her distinguished charges across the Ukraina's lobby toward the revolving door. It was an old door, of heavy wood and glass, too narrow to cope with more than one body at a time, so the scholars formed a line in the dim light, like parachutists over a target zone, and as they passed her, Olga touched each one lightly on the shoulder with her umbrella, counting them off one by one as they were propelled into the freezing Moscow air.

Franklin Adelman of Yale went first, as befitted his age and status, then Moldenhauer of the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz, with his absurd double doctorate--Dr. Dr. Karl-bloody-Moldenhauer--then the neo-Marxists, Enrico Banfi of Milan and Eric Chambers of the LSE, then the great cold warrior Phil Duberstein, of NYU, then Ivo Godelier of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, followed by glum Dave Richards of St. Antony's, Oxford--another Sovietologist whose world was rubble--then Velma Byrd of the U.S. National Archive, then Alastair Findlay of Edinburgh's Department of War Studies, who still thought the sun shone out of Comrade Stalin's ass, then Arthur Saunders of Stanford, and finally--the man whose lateness had kept them waiting in the lobby for an extra five minutes--Dr. C.R.A. Kelso, commonly known as Fluke.

The door banged hard against his heels. Outside, the weather had worsened. It was trying to snow. Tiny flakes, as hard as grit, came whipping across the wide gray concourse and spattered his face and hair. At the bottom of the flight of steps, shuddering in a cloud of its own white fumes, was a dilapidated bus, waiting to take them to the symposium. Kelso stopped to light a cigarette.

"Jesus, Fluke," called Adelman, cheerfully. "You look just awful."
Kelso raised a fragile hand in acknowledgment. He could see a huddle of taxi drivers in quilted jackets stamping their feet against the cold. Workmen were struggling to lift a roll of tin off the back of a truck. One Korean businessman in a fur hat was photographing a group of twenty others, similarly dressed. But of Papu Rapava, no sign.
"Dr. Kelso, please, we are waiting again." The umbrella wagged at him in reproof. He transferred the cigarette to the corner of his mouth, hitched his bag up onto his shoulder, and moved toward the bus.

"A battered Byron" was how one Sunday newspaper had described him when he had resigned his Oxford lectureship and moved to New York, and the description wasn't a bad one--curly black hair too long and thick for neatness, a moist, expressive mouth, pale cheeks, and the glow of a certain reputation--if Byron hadn't died on Missolonghi but had spent the next ten years drinking whiskey, smoking, staying indoors, and resolutely avoiding all exercise, he too might have come to look a little like Fluke Kelso.

He was wearing what he always wore: a faded dark blue shirt of heavy cotton with the top button undone; a loosely knotted and vaguely stained dark tie; a black corduroy suit with a black leather belt, over which his stomach bulged slightly; red cotton handkerchief in his breast pocket; scuffed boots of brown suede; an old blue raincoat. This was Kelso's uniform, unvaried for twenty years.

"Boy," Rapava had called him, and the word was both absurd for a middle-aged man and yet oddly accurate. Boy.

The heater was going full blast. Nobody was saying much. He sat on his own near the back of the bus and rubbed at the wet glass as they jolted up the ramp to join the traffic on the bridge. Across the aisle, Saunders made an ostentatious display of batting Kelso's smoke away. Beneath them, in the filthy waters of the Moskva, a dredger with a crane mounted on its aft deck beat sluggishly upstream.

He nearly hadn't come to Russia. That was the joke of it. He knew well enough what it would be like: the bad food, the stale gossip, the sheer bloody tedium of academic life--of more and more being said about less and less. That was one reason why he had chucked Oxford and gone to live in New York. But somehow the books he was supposed to write had not quite materialized. And besides, he never could resist the lure of Moscow. Even now, sitting on a stale bus in the Wednesday rush hour, he could feel the charge of history beyond the muddy glass: in the dark and renamed streets, the vast apartment blocks, the toppled statues. It was stronger here than anywhere he knew, stronger even than in Berlin. That was what always drew him back to Moscow--the way history hung in the air between the blackened buildings like sulfur after a lightning strike.

"You think you know it all about Comrade Stalin, don't you, boy? Well, let me tell you: You don't know fuck."
Kelso had already delivered his short paper, on Stalin and the archives, at the end of the previous day: delivered it in his trademark style--without notes, with one hand in his pocket, extempore, provocative. His Russian hosts had looked gratifyingly shifty. A couple of people had even walked out. So, all in all, a triumph.

Afterward, finding himself predictably alone, he had decided to walk back to the Ukraina. It was a long walk and it was getting dark, but he needed the air. And at some point--he couldn't remember where; maybe it was in one of the back streets behind the Institute or maybe it was later, along the Noviy Arbat--but at some point he had realized he was being followed. It was nothing tangible, just a fleeting impression of something seen too often--the flash of a coat, perhaps, or the shape of a head--but Kelso had been in Moscow often enough in the bad old days to know that you were seldom wrong about these things. You always knew if a film was out of synch, however fractionally; you always knew if someone fancied you, however improbably; and you always knew when someone was on your tail.

He had just stepped into his hotel room and was contemplating some primary research in the minibar when the front desk had called up to say there was a man in the lobby who wanted to see him. Who? He wouldn't give his name, sir. But he was most insistent and he wouldn't leave. So Kelso had gone down, reluctantly, and found Papu Rapava sitting on one of the Ukraina's imitation-leather sofas, staring straight ahead, in his papery blue suit, his wrists and ankles sticking out as thin as broomsticks.

"You think you know it all about Comrade Stalin, don't you, boy?" Those had been his opening words.
And that was the moment when Kelso had realized where he had first seen the old man--at the symposium, in the front row of the public seats, listening intently to the simultaneous translation over his headphones, muttering in violent disagreement at any hostile mention of J. V. Stalin.
Who are you? thought Kelso, staring out of the grimy window. Fantasist? Con man? The answer to a prayer?

The symposium was scheduled to last only one more day--for which relief, in Kelso's view, much thanks. It was being held in the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, an orthodox temple of gray concrete, consecrated in the Brezhnev years, with Marx, Engels, and Lenin in gigantic bas-relief above the pillared entrance. The ground floor had been leased to a private bank, since gone bust, which added to the air of dereliction.

On the opposite side of the street, watched by a couple of bored-looking militiamen, a small demonstration was in progress--maybe a hundred people, mostly elderly, but with a few youths in black berets and leather jackets. It was the usual mixture of fanatics and grudge holders--Marxists, nationalists, anti-Semites. Crimson flags bearing the hammer and sickle hung beside black flags embroidered with the czarist eagle. One old lady carried a picture of Stalin; another sold cassettes of SS marching songs. An elderly man with an umbrella held over him was addressing the crowd through a bullhorn, his voice a distorted, metallic rant. Stewards were handing out a free newspaper called Aurora.

"Take no notice," instructed Olga Komarova, standing up beside the driver. She tapped the side of her head. "These are crazy people. Red fascists."
"What's he saying?" demanded Duberstein, who was considered a world authority on Soviet communism even though he had never quite gotten around to learning Russian.
"He's talking about how the Hoover Institution tried to buy the Party archive for five million bucks," said Adelman. "He says we're trying to steal their history."
Duberstein sniggered. "Who'd want to steal their goddamn history?" He tapped on the window with his signet ring. "Say, isn't that a TV crew?"
The sight of a camera caused a predictable, wistful stir among the academics.
"I believe so . . ."
"How very flattering . . ."
"What's the name," said Adelman, "of the fellow who runs Aurora? Is it still the same one?" He twisted around in his seat and called up the aisle. "Fluke--you should know. What's his name? Old KGB--"
"Mamantov," said Kelso. The driver braked hard, and he had to swallow to stop himself from being sick. "Vladimir Mamantov."
"Crazy people," repeated Olga, bracing herself as they came to a stop. "I apologize on behalf of Rosarkhiv. They are not representative. Follow me, please. Ignore them."
They filed off the bus, and a television cameraman filmed them as they trudged across the asphalt forecourt, past a couple of drooping, silvery fir trees, pursued by jeers.

Fluke Kelso moved delicately at the rear of the column, nursing his hangover, holding his head at a careful angle, as if he were balancing a pitcher of water. A pimply youth in wire spectacles thrust a copy of Aurora at him, a...

Revue de presse

Praise for


"Elegant, atmospheric . . . a tense and thoughtful thriller."    --San Francisco Chronicle                                

"Literate and savvy . . . It's always a pleasure to encounter a historical thriller this subtle and detailed. . . . [             ] brims with wartime intrigue and paranoia."         --The Washington Post Book World


"A stunning debut."   --Boston Globe                                

"An elegant thriller, a thoughtful, frightening story of complicity."    --San Francisco Chronicle             

"An absorbing, expertly written novel."    --The New York Times                                   

From the Paperback edition.

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4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 dans les secrets de Staline... 6 juin 2009
Même s'il démarre un peu lentement, je me suis vite laissée happer par ce captivant thriller qui n'est pas sans rappeler les meilleurs romans de Frederick Forsyth et notamment le célèbre "Dossier Odessa". On y trouve le même soin scrupuleux dans les descriptions, la même précision historique et bien sûr le même souci de garder le lecteur dans un état de perpétuel suspense. Mon seul regret, c'est de ne pas avoir découvert plus tôt ce livre publié voilà maintenant onze ans!
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Par serge
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
L'auteur s'est magnifiquement documenté. Ses descriptions de la Russie soviétique et post-communiste sont vous plongent dans un autre monde. Les personnages sont infiniment crédibles. A quoi s'ajoute une leçon d'histoire, centrée sur la personnalioté (terrifiante) de Staline. Un de ces thrillers haut de gammme qui sont aussi de la littérature de qualité. Chaleureusement recommandé, en ce qui me concerne.
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4.0 étoiles sur 5 Et si c'était vrai? 15 novembre 2013
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Je l'ai trouvé très bien mais un peu dur et je me demande ce que les russes en pensent? Je suppose qu'il y a une version russe?
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Amazon.com: 3.8 étoiles sur 5  163 commentaires
15 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Cult of Stalin Redux 14 avril 2007
Par Douglas S. Wood - Publié sur Amazon.com
Robert Harris puts academic has-been Fluke Kelso at the center of a tall tale with a solid foundation in the 'wild west' days of post-Soviet Russia. Hookers, mafia, a publicity-mad newshound, former Soviet tough guys, and modern Russian cops all play roles in this page-turner that delves back to the cult of Stalin - and brings that cult into today. The scariest thing about this book is that it's based partially in the reality that Stalin remains a shockingly popular figure in Russia today, which also lends the book an uncomfortable veneer of plausibility.

I've read three of Harris's works now - Pompeii, Imperium, and Archangel. Contrary to some other reviewers, I enjoyed this book more than Pompeii and found it to be more of page-turner than Imperium (I thought Imperium was a bit more of a serious book - closer to literature than mass market paperback like Archangel).

I suppose the ending, criticized by others as implausible, does require one to perform a sizeable suspended disbelief, but if you pull that off, the ending hangs together. It's just a creepy lot of fun to see how Professor Kelso is going to get out of this mess and the crazy company he's keeping.

Highly recommended.
13 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent 27 octobre 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
In no other way is the terror, fanaticism and cunning of Stalin brought forward more forcefully. Nowhere else can anyone experience the sheer terror that Stalin comanded over his people, and the skill with which Harris displays this feeling is immense. At every turn there is a new revelation, at each chapter a further twist in the plot, until the end is revealed in stunning power, excitement and suspense. This is a fantastic book, and made even more frightening with the knowledge that Stalin could have done this.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 It is, too, believable! 7 février 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
After reading all 40 of the reviews, I am amazed that so many readers found the ending unbelievable. I lived in the Soviet Union before and after its demise. The comment I heard so often from the common person was a desire for a strong leader, "like Stalin." The ending of the book was frighteningly believable down to the political posturing and manipulation of the media. I'm pondering how so many readers could find the ending so unbelievable. Perhaps you must live in a culture to really entertain the possiblities. Given all of this, I am still disappointed with the last few paragraphs. I'm not sure how it ended. I wonder if that was the author's intent or whether it was a typical television, movie question-mark ending that leaves rooms for sequels. Nevertheless, the book captured the Russia I experienced so profoundly that I had to set it aside several times because of the deep emotional impact his very clear descriptions evoked.
12 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 A missed opportunity 25 juillet 2000
Par Simon Jackson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Robert Harris in his novel Archangel presents me with something of a dilemma. I enjoyed thoroughly some aspects of the book and others I found to be almost unreadable. I do not have an issue with plots that are far-fetched or fantastic in nature, but to convince me they do need an element of conviction. At times, particularly in the latter half of Archangel, I felt the author wanted nothing more than to get the book over with.
Joseph Stalin is the central figure in the plot, his thoughts, beliefs and actions shape the events of the novel. Indeed, Harris writes well of the power of a belief system that led to the terrors of Stalinist Russia. He conveys the almost depressing fear of that period in history and transposes it to a modern day Soviet Union. Thus Harris is able to set the scene of the book in an effective way and the tension builds in a convincing manner. However, in doing so Archangel is set in an almost Orwellian Russia, where the bad guys are so bad that they come over a little cliched and the Russian people become caricatures, almost totally grey and devoid of humanity.
There was real scope in this book to develop an excellent story line to a thrilling conclusion. For me this did not happen in that the conclusion was so predictable that perhaps the description `thriller' was not an appropriate one. In rushing the second half of the novel and putting so little effort into the conclusion Robert Harris missed a opportunity to make a mediocre novel into an excellent one.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "Death solves all problems--no man, no problem" 9 mai 2005
Par M. Dog - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche|Achat vérifié
Robert Harris is one of the finest "page-turner" authors you will ever read. He has a real knack for increasing both brain cell activity as well as the pulse rate, and Archangel is another book in the slowly increasing Harris titles that will absolutely keep you up late turning the last 100 pages.

It is difficult to speak about the plot without giving away too much. Basically, a historian, well passed his glory years, stumbles upon the possibility of a very valuable and reputation-saving diary left by the Man of Steel himself, Joseph Stalin. As the historian, Fluke Kelso (what a great name for a has-been), begins to investigate, it becomes very clear that certain parities would much prefer if he let the matter rest. I can't tell you more; but the author really makes the most of this premise. Many figures from Russian history are brought to startling life.

Harris powers of description are really superb, and his images of Russia, especially rural, northern Russia, were so bleak and otherworldly I felt shivers. What I really love about Harris is not only are his story ideas enthralling and richly promising, his abilities as a writer back up the promise. How many books have you started because the story idea sounded great, only to find the author wasn't a good writer? Well, have no fear with Harris. His plotting and pace really make you feel like you are racing to the end, his characters are people you care about and oddly lasting in memory, and his historical research is really top notch.

I guarantee you will be thinking about the words of Zanaida Pupava, the legal student paying her way through law school by turning tricks in a "new Russia," long after you finish the book. -Mykal Banta
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