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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  4,507 ratings  ·  207 reviews
Fluke Kelso was once a scholar of promise, but like so many in the highly competitive world of academia, he's never delivered. But one night, at a symposium in Moscow concerning the release of secret Soviet archives, he is approached by Papu Rapava, a former Kremlin bodyguard with a story to tell. No one but the desperate Kelso would believe the tale, for what Rapava descr ...more
Hardcover, 373 pages
Published October 28th 1998 by Random House
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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
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
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
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
Fiona Moyler
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
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
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
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!).
“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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emma Clement
Aug 17, 2007 Emma Clement rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sabrina Nierras
I read this book when I was about 15. I know a book of this genre don't appeal to people at that age, but something about that book drew me in. I like the story. And if that book were a movie, it would probably be R rated. Nevertheless, It has good plot, good storyline, and etc., and it made me learn about Russian history.
Michael Gerald Dealino
A gripping work of historical fiction that takes a shot at Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, this book takes the protagonist on a mystery and physical journey across Russia to tackle an evil borne from another evil decades ago.
I am in the middle of reading it...but as it is an excellent book...I have a feeling parts of it really happened then fictionalized..Boldly written...
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
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
Seemed like a good plot and but never lived up to its potential.
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
Arun Divakar
For someone who does not spend too much time going over history, the idea of the most horrendous monster that ever walked on two legs and in human form was Hitler. I was a believer in this theory too before I understood Russia in all its brutal glory. A few years ago I hadn't heard of the Stalinist purges, of the mass genocides in the erstwhile Soviet Union and of the human lives that perished like battered flies during WWII. Stalin in my old history textbooks was a hero who saved the world with ...more
Anthony Eaton
I'm a long time Fan of Robert Harris' work, and he's never more at his best than when he's pulling at and unravelling the threads of history. His book 'Fatherland' is a classic of alternative history, and in Archangel he has similarly imposed the past like a palimpsest upon the present.

In some ways, it would be possible to read Archangel as a companion piece to 'Fatherland' - Where Fatherland dived into the shadow of Hitler's legacy, in 'Archangel' we're taken into the dark places of Stalin's re
I decided to try Archangel because I loved Robert Harris’s Fatherland as well as the first two books from the Cicero trilogy, Imperium and Lustrum (the latter called Conspirata in the U.S.). I did not enjoy Archangel as much.

In the story, British historian Fluke Kelso (yes, that's the bizarre moniker of the protagonist) is attending a conference in Boris Yeltsin’s Moscow in the 90s. He learns of the possible existence of a black oilskin notebook owned by Joseph Stalin. From there, the book is a
Endre Barath
Archangel by Robert Harris… If you have never read any books by Robert Harris let me tell you something: You are missing out on one of the best Historical Novelists of our time. He writes as if it really happened that way. Harris’s historical research is obvious, the details are amazing. I have lived until the age of 11 in Communist Hungry and my father told stories, which coincided with events that happened in this book. Some of the details he included, you would not know by reading or studying ...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
Kelso, einem Geschichtsprofessor aus England, wird in seinem Hotelzimmer in Moskau, wo er sich gerade aufhält, um an einer Tagung teilzunehmen, von einem früheren Geheimdienstmann erzählt, wie Stalin zu Tode kam und dass er ein geheimnisvolles Notizbuch bei sich hatte. Kurz darauf wird der Mann ermordet und Kelso macht sich daran, das Notizbuch zu finden und das Geheimnis, das sich darin verbirgt, zu lüften.
Behilflich sind ihm dabei die Tochter seines Informanten und ein Reporter aus Amerika. Do
Vamsi Krishna
Well, I picked this one after my friend recommended it. It was a good book, not a great one though. It is a decent book with good twists.

The story starts with Papu Rapava, one of the Bodyguards of Lavrenty Beria. Papu Rapava tells historian Fluke Kelso about the happenings on the night of Joseph Stalin's death. Beria with the help of Papu Rapava hides the Secret Notebook of Joseph Stalin. It is now left to Fluke Kelso to determine whether this Guy Rapava was indeed speaking the truth. Fluke then
This is not my usual style of reading, I do not read political novels nor have I ever read any novels about Soviet Russia but I read the back of the book as was intrigued and I have to say that I enjoyed it.
Set in modern-day Russia, the story follows Fluke Kelso as he is in Moscow to attend a conference on the Soviet archives. Fluke discovers some secret papers that is thought to be a diary kept by Joseph Stalin. The diary leads Fluke to the northern Russian city of Archangel and sees him face
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Robert Dennis Harris (born 7 March 1957 in Nottingham) is a best-selling English novelist. He is a former journalist and BBC TV reporter. He specialises in historical thrillers noted for their literary accomplishment. His books have been translated into some thirty languages
More about Robert Harris...
Pompeii Fatherland Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Cicero, #1) Enigma The Ghost

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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.” 9 likes
“Death solves all problems - no man, no problem. - J. V. Stalin, 1918 3 likes
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