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3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  6,236 Ratings  ·  286 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 ...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
Mar 12, 2013 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
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.
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
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
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 ...more
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 ...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 ...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 ...more
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!).
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.
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.
Maria Osit-Li
Dec 18, 2012 Maria Osit-Li rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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...
Gonçalo Garcia
Jan 10, 2015 Gonçalo Garcia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
12/10 - Não faltava nenhuma página.
Nov 23, 2010 Chris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Seemed like a good plot and but never lived up to its potential.
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.
Jun 21, 2014 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vicky Ziliaskopoulou
Λοιπόοοον, εδώ έχουμε το παράδοξο φαινόμενο να έχω διαβάσει ένα βιβλίο προ δεκαπενταετίας και να ενθουσιαστώ, και να το ξαναδιαβάσω τώρα και να μη μου αρέσει ιδιαίτερα. Δεν ξέρω αν φταίνε τα δεκάδες βιβλία που έχω διαβάσει ενδιάμεσα ή το ότι έχει αλλάξει πολύ η πολιτική κατάσταση στη Ρωσία (ότι και να πιστεύει ο καθένας μας, άλλο Πούτιν άλλο Γιέλτσιν ) και πλέον δε μου φαίνεται ότι ανταποκρίνεται στην πραγματικότητα.
Νομίζω ότι όταν γράφτηκε το βιβλίο (το 1998- μόλις 7 χρόνια από την κατάρρευση
Cat Sheely
Nov 16, 2016 Cat Sheely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
I was nearly finished with the book and thoroughly enjoying it when I realised I'd seen the television adaptation. That's how engrossing it was and actually much more informative. The delightful details about Moscow and the interesting storyline around Stalin was great.

The characters are so well defined and emotionally accessible that you ride along with them on the journey.
Oct 30, 2016 Rod rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another outstanding thriller from Harris. Master of the alien environment, he sets the action in "modern" (1997) Russia, still dealing with the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union. A British sovietologist uncovers a lead to Josef Stalin's private notebook to start the action.

As with all Harris' work, highly recommended.
Ernst G.
Nov 22, 2016 Ernst G. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brings you to the past and present of Russia. No way to put it down when started. Not without improbable twists, but in the end it leaves some thoughts in your mind. A good reminder of what was and could be again.
Oct 28, 2016 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite as enjoyable, for me, as the Roman history series of novels, but still a vividly drawn, well-researched book. The ending may be a bit improbable, and the way it leaves some of the characters up in the air isn't quite so satisfactory, but overall, it's a good read.
Nov 13, 2016 Gerald rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Terrific first half, loved the Moscow scenes.. made me want to go there. But felt it was far too preposterous at the end and lost that momentum.
Mark Price
First two thirds pretty good but final third became a bit unbelievable and the book is long so drags a bit
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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
“Nothing is more important to a nation than its history. It is the earth upon which any society stands.” 4 likes
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