Friday, 12 July 2013

Review of The Distinguished Assassin by Nick Taussig

If you like historically accurate, emotionally charged reads, then this is for you! We accompany Aleksei  Klebnikov, a noted History professor at Moscow University as he becomes a victim of Stalin`s post-WW11 purges against those who speak, however mildly, against the Communist regime. He is removed from his wife Natasha and talented dancer daughter Katya, interrogated in the Lubyanka and sent  to a notorious gulag called Kolyma in the far reaches of Siberia. Here he is worked to near death then put in solitary to rot after attacking a cruel guard. He is befriended by a fellow prisoner, the powerful thief-in-law Ivan Ivanovich , who helps him to escape on condition that he assassinates six of the most powerful Communists, or nomenclatura.

Aleksei  fulfils his promise for five of the men but, having been reunited with Natasha whom he thought had been unfaithful with his arresting officer Vladimir Vladimirovich, decides to ignore the last man on the list. However, it turns out that the nomenclatura not the only heartless, cruel and corrupt group of people with whom the Soviet citizens have to live. How can Aleksei bear any more pain?
The book explores in detail Stalin`s overwhelming repression of the Soviet people and his methods of control. The subjects of power v helplessness, betrayal v faithfulness, religion v godlessness, rich v poor and truth v duplicity are all deeply explored. In my opinion Nick Taussig encapsulates the human condition succinctly without judgment.  

Reviewed by Liz.

Thanks Liz and thank you to ED PR for sending us a copy to review.

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