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3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  6,076 Ratings  ·  273 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 January 19th 1999 by Random House (first published September 19th 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
Jan 31, 2009 Eric_W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 liked it  ·  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
Mar 27, 2011 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 14, 2012 Lana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
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
Emma Clement
Aug 17, 2007 Emma Clement rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Nick Marsh
Apr 28, 2014 Nick Marsh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 20, 2010 Jerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2009 Finooola rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Jan 02, 2012 Jamie rated it really liked it
Shelves: espionage
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
Jun 02, 2011 Al rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sidin Vadukut
Apr 25, 2016 Sidin Vadukut rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good. A pretty slim plot when I think about it in retrospect. But enjoyable and thumped along satisfyingly.
Laura S
Apr 28, 2015 Laura S rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A staggeringly deft, page turner of a novel. Some great twists and an ending that packs a punch.
Gonçalo Garcia
Jan 10, 2015 Gonçalo Garcia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Libby Bishop
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 01, 2008 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 12, 2015 Karl Jorgenson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 31, 2016 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
Archangel is set in the 90's. Historian Fluke Kelso has been invited to Moscow to speak at a symposium hosted by the Russian Archive Service. What is expected to be a dull and boring visit changes when Kelso has an unexpected visitor. Papu Rapava has a story to tell. He claims he was present when Josef Stalin died and that a personal journal of Stalin's was stolen. Rapava knows where it is hidden and is willing to exchange that knowledge for money.

This is a story of an everyman who becomes enta
May 21, 2016 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Raymond Walker
Mar 17, 2016 Raymond Walker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A classic thriller, kept you hooked from the very preamble, important clever, well researched. (some of the stuff about stalin horrified me- it was something i knew little about except in general terms) It is also educational and enlightened me on much of the worries and sacrifices of the cold war, the thoughts and ideas of the russian people. But mainly to be honest i do not know if all the history is true (certainly not my time period by a few thousand years) but whither it is or is not (and i ...more
Sabrina Nierras
Feb 07, 2011 Sabrina Nierras rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Subhabrata Das
Dec 22, 2015 Subhabrata Das rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction, Alternative History
I first learnt about Robert Harris from a review of Fatherland and wanted to read it since I found the plot of alternative history to be quite fascinating. Enquired at a local old book shop - but couldn't find it. Instead the shopkeeper gave me Archangel - I came to know about the book while reading Harris' bibliography. Based on modern decadent Russia, laced with elements of Stalinist terror, I took it to be a political thriller.
Although it didn't disappoint, yet the storyline wasn't really tha
Michael Gerald
May 24, 2012 Michael Gerald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Gordon Davie
Jun 06, 2016 Gordon Davie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to get into this book, probably about 100 pages before I knew if I liked it or not. A slow burner, reminiscent of John Le Carre but not as much detail. Don't let that put you off as its a great thriller, a good book for a holiday. The story follows the plot of a historian on the trail of an alleged notebook that Stalin kept just before his death. The story takes in the streets of Moscow before the climax in the sub Arctic forests around Archangel. The author has clearly done a ...more
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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.” 12 likes
“You can't make sense of the present unless a part of you lives in the past.” 4 likes
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