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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  5,299 ratings  ·  243 reviews
Archangel is a remarkably literate novel--and simultaneously a gripping thriller--that explores the lingering presence of Stalin amidst the corruption of modern-day Russia. Robert Harris (whose previous works include Enigma and Fatherland) elevates his tale by choosing a narrator with an outsider's perspective but an insider's knowledge of Soviet history: Fluke Kelso, a mi ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published February 1st 2000 by Jove (first published 1998)
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Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Throwback Thursday! This is when I review books which I read a while ago, but somehow never got around to reviewing.

Today I choose Archangel, which is a truly excellent historical thriller by Robert Harris. I first became aware of Harris when I stumbled upon his debut novel, Fatherland - a work of alternative history, set in a universe where Nazi Germany won World War 2. This isn't a new theme in historical fiction, but Harris's take was surprisingly engaging an
This is a truly excellent book, one of the only novels I have enjoyed more and more with each re-read. The characters are fantastic - I had such a crush on Fluke Kelso the first time I read it, and post-Millennium trilogy I couldn't help but think Zinaida Rapava bears more than a passing resemblance to Lisbeth Salander. The historical detail and the part Russia's history plays in everything that happens (it's almost as though history is a character in the story) is flawless. But the depiction of ...more
Robert Harris is the author of the very successful and previously reviewed Fatherland, the kind of novel I usually do not read because it relies on the “what if” kind of assumptions that I find trite and silly. But that novel worked quite well. It assumed that Hitler had won the war, that he had successfully hidden the details of the Holocaust, and that he was about to begin friendly relations with the United States under president Kennedy. The a Berlin detective stumbles across evidence of the ...more
David S.
Jan 22, 2015 David S. rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Maciek
Shelves: suspense, adventure, 2015
I remember years ago watching a movie, starring Rutger Hauer, called Fatherland. This was, of course, based on Harris' novel of the same name, and I found the storyline to be fantastic. The alternate history, where the Nazis had won, and the afteraffects because of it. I meant to read this novel, but, since I had already known the storyline, I never got around to picking it up.

Fast forward years 2 weeks ago. I've come to a point in my reading life where I'm not sure what I should
Emma Clement
Aug 17, 2007 Emma Clement rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves a good old fashioned thriller
Shelves: readandloved
I read this book because I love Robert Harris' Pompeii and wanted to see if another book by Robert was as good. Absolutely amazing read, kept me thinking and guessing. I used to do most of my reading on my train journey to work and a few times I almost missed my stop because I was so engrossed! As much as I enjoyed this book, My fave is still Pompeii.
Nick Marsh
This book explores a frighteningly clever idea: what if Stalin, the lord of genocide, had left a son behind him? Who would be interested in locating this limited intelligence young man in some dark corner of Russia, and what would they do with him?
Robert Harris published the story in 1998, obviously without imagining how things would turn out sixteen years later in the rise of the current Kremlin regime. One of the fascinating things about this young Stalin is that his voice sounds exactly like
Set in Yeltsin's Russia, Archangel is an intellingent, tightly-plotted literary page-turner, revolving around the discovery of a secret notebook belonging to Stalin and kept hidden from the world for sixty years.

Fluke Kelso, its hero, is a populist historian whose career has never really lived up to its early promise. But when he is accosted by a veteran of Stalin's labour camps while attending a conference in Moscow, it seems as if fate may have finally graced him an opportunity to transform h
In cleaning through my apartment I have found an old treasure-trove of book related papers, including my “books read” list from 1999-2000. In addition to listing the books, I wrote about 2-3 sentences to myself – sometimes they were plot reminders, sometimes commentary on the books. They were not intended to be read by anyone other than myself. I don’t imagine these will be very helpful to anyone else, but I’m posting them here for two reasons: first, to keep my reviews/comments in one place now ...more
Not bad, even though predictable enough - but its most major flaw, one that set my teeth on edge throughout was the choice of main character, this Fluke guy, who was unbelievably annoying. I can deal with main characters who aren't likable, even if this is a weird choice for a thriller, but when nearly everything is presented from his point of view, and you can't abide him worth a damn, it gets tiresome pretty quickly. So at one point, I started skipping his ramblings/pity parties/opinions to ge ...more
“But clever people all make one mistake. They all think everyone else is stupid. And everyone isn't stupid. They just take a bit more time, that's all.”

The story revolves around a historian Fluke Kelso and four days in his life in Russia. Fluke is in Moscow to attend a conference about the opening up of Russia's archives when he is visited in his hotel room by an old man who claims to have been present at the death of Stalin and assisted in the concealment of a secret Stalin notebook. Kelso has
An excellent thriller, great premise. How do I tell you about it without giving it away. It is set in Russia of the 1990's. Our main character is an historian attending a conference on Russian history and he delivers a lecture on "Confronting the Past" and speaks about Stalin. He doesn't mince words, no trying to make Stalin sound like maybe a reasonable fellow. Our historian's name is Dr. Kelso and he is weary, somewhat burned out, disappointed, three times divorced, and drinks too much. What h ...more
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Clever Soviet thriller blends fact and fiction re Stalin...

It's clear that former BBC correspondent Harris either knows or has researched a great deal about Russia: from the life and deeds, many horrible enough to compare to Hitler, of Joseph Stalin, to the modern day "replacement nation" that forms the former Soviet Union. When Fluke Kelso, a Brit historian specializing in Stalin travels to Moscow to attend a minor conference, he gets a tip that encourages him to hunt for the oft rumored lost
Rowland Bismark
Robert Harris' first great success came with his novel, Fatherland, in which he suggested an alternate history in which Hitler had won the war (similar to P.K.Dick's The Man in the High Castle or Otto Basil's The Twilight Men, among many such novels). Harris took the great historical jump and carried it off quite well. In Archangel he offers another tantalizing possibility of rewriting history, though the jump he makes is not quite as great.

Set in post-Soviet Russia Harris posits the existence o
After loudly praising Pompeii around my family I ended up getting all this guy's boks for xmas. This one was really good, but I found it took a long time to get off the ground, whereas Pompeii and Fatherland were gripping from the start. Once it did get going Harris did a great job of building up a sense of dread and it became very hard to put down as it went along. As other reviewers have said, it's hard to talk about the book very much without giving away the plot; however I will say that I fo ...more
My fourth Robert Harris after the excellent Imperium, the satisfactory Pompeii and the not so good Enigma.

"Archangel" comes close to being as good as Imperium. In fact, if the third half (apart from the excellent and unexpected ending) weren't dull, it would be even better than "Imperium".

But I still think this is one of the best novels written about stalinism in Russia. If you are wary of reading non-fiction but nevertheless are interested to know more about Joseph Stalin and the USSR, this is
This is my second Robert Harris book after first reading Fatherland. The author does like historical novels. Russian history, both the old Soviet Union and the new Russia, play a huge role in this story. From Moscow to the old Soviet sub base of Archangel, the historian Fluke Kelso tries to put together the pieces of secret history from Stalin's mythical notebook. But Dr. Kelso does not like what he finds. And the ghost of the past threatens to affect change in the present and future. Good chara ...more
This book hovered between a "3" and a "4", and on second thought I've decided to round up.
I've enjoyed every book of Robert Harris's that I've read, and he has a great way of turning a phrase, although this is not my favorite of his.
The beginning of this book started slow, and it took me a little while to get into it. The main character, Fluke Kelso, was not my favorite either, or the type of person to root for. Nevertheless, he was a believable protagonist.
My favorite character was Zinaida, a c
Fluke Kelso, a washed-up Russian expert, visits Moscow for a conference and becomes involved in a search for a mysterious piece of historical data from Stalin's time. He's quickly over his head, but unable to resist the lure of a possible find which would put him and his career back on the map. The book has lots of topical Russian information, and ruminations about the horrific events of the Stalin era -- and expressions of amazement that Stalin manages still to have a better reputation than Hi ...more
Dan N.
After reading Robert Harris' An Officer and a Spy, I found this book in an used book store in San Diego. I started reading it on the plane ride back to Chicago. The protagonist is a British scholar in Soviet studies, Fluke Kelso. Kelso is lecturing on Stalin at a international symposium in Moscow. After his lecture, he meets a former NKVD agent who, after a night of drinking, shares a secret about Stalin's death and a missing notebook. I won't go into details, so no spoilers here. However, the n ...more
I liked the book very much.
I like books which can give you the essentials of a historical figure or a period while telling some story which combines very good true historical facts with fiction. The author describes very well the real life in the former USSR, the ugly tower blocks, the fear, the poverty, the strong connection with the past which Russians couldn't get rid off so easily and actually they don't want to.
Really a book which you can learn something from.
Here is a song from the work
Though it is not as captivating as his Cicero trilogy, Harris' Archangel is a good political thriller. Harris' forte seems to be to re-imagine real politicians and their dirty deeds in fascinating detail and precision without ever turning it into a history research project. Anyone interested in Stalin will find plenty to get worked up about here. The premise of the book is this: What if Stalin left behind personal diaries, and if found, who gets to keep them? This is a strong anchor to get the s ...more
Brian Boyle
From the perpective of 2014, this thriller simply looks a bit dated. Both in the subject matter and style. A very linear plot doesn't really stack up against the much more complex and intricate plots of present day politicial thrillers. Some parts simply defy belief, (no spoliers - but I would have thought DNA rather than a diary would be the critical evidence) and I get a little tired of slightly overweight middle-aged academic men beng cast as the heroes. Some wish fulfillment goingg on here? ...more
Laura S
A staggeringly deft, page turner of a novel. Some great twists and an ending that packs a punch.
Gonçalo Garcia
12/10 - Não faltava nenhuma página.
A. J. McMahon
Another fairly average political thriller from Robert Harris. It is not badly written, it is very well researched, the story moves briskly along, but in the end nothing is really properly explored and the various issues that arise are not at all examined. Stalin is presented as a thug who liked to listen to recordings of wolves howling, but the question as to how then he can have been a major world leader is not asked. To this day Stalin divides the West from Soviet nostalgics. We in the West ar ...more
I am currently about halfway through this exciting historical thriller and enjoying the read very much. Or should I say 'listen' because it is the audio book version read marvelously by Michael Kitchen? I had intended to pick up Robert Harris' Fatherland seeing as I have been on something of a Germany-Weimar-Nazi era kick for the last while, but the premise of Archangel sounded intriguing, involving discovery of Stalin's secret notebook and his continued influence upon post-Soviet Russia. Harris ...more
I loved this book! I love books that are fictional stories based on "real" history. Not the SS this time but Stalin. Could this have happened? etc. There was a TV adaptation of this a few years ago but it was nowhere near as good as the book and didn't have the same draw for me. Mind you, that's usually the case with TV / film adaptations I find. This is good (and educational - if you, like me, didn't really pay attention to history at school!).
Karl Jorgenson
This book seemed kind of long. The ins and outs of modern, corrupt Russia life are interesting, and Harris's characters are compelling, but I think the bopping around looking for clues went on twice as long as it should have.
Harris totally makes up for any verbosity with a runaway train of an ending, full of action, twists, tragedy. This is so much better than that idiot Dan Brown with his pot-boiling, junk science, clap-trap. I mention him because the books have one thing in common: both have a
I had once read a interview of Stalin's daughter. She said and I quote " Russians are people who live more in their past than their present." This situation is directly shown in the book which I liked. Also Harris added some Russian character who I believe should be the face of modern youth of Russia who was unwilling to be affected by the past and work out for the better present.
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ROBERT HARRIS is the author of nine best-selling novels: Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, Imperium, The Ghost Writer, Conspirata, The Fear Index, and An Officer and a Spy. Several of his books have been adapted to film, most recently The Ghost Writer, directed by Roman Polanski. His work has been translated into thirty-seven languages. He lives in the village of Kintbury, England, with his ...more
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“But clever people all make one mistake. They all think everyone else is stupid. And everyone isn't stupid. They just take a bit more time, that's all.” 10 likes
“Death solves all problems - no man, no problem. - J. V. Stalin, 1918 3 likes
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