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The Revolutionist

A novel by

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.

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

Genre: Historical

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