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36 Yalta Boulevard (The Yalta Boulevard Sequence #3)

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  816 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Olen Steinhauer's acclaimed first two novels, The Bridge of Sighs and The Confession, have garnered thus far an Edgar nomination, an Anthony nomination, a Macavity nomination, a Historical Dagger nomination, and five starred reviews. Now he takes this superb literary series set in a nameless Eastern European country into the 1960s.

State Security Officer Brano Sev is the se
ebook, 320 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Minotaur Books (first published January 1st 2005)
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Jan 30, 2009 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Spy Lit fans, Cold War Nostalgists
Shelves: mystery, political, spy
Expatriate American author Olen Steinhauer's five part Iron Curtain series gets better with every book, every decade he showcases, and every character he focuses on. 36 Yalta Boulevard is no exception.

Brano Sev, the enigmatic apparatchik who played supporting roles in The Bridge of Sighs and The Confession, finds himself at the heart of a conspiracy to overthrow his unnamed country while on assignment as rezident in Vienna, Austria.

Weaving his way through a sixties Europe populated by the Beatl
Barbara Barna
May 11, 2013 Barbara Barna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished blitzing through Olen Steinhauer's 5-book crime & espionage series set in a fictional Soviet-bloc country during the Cold War. Each book is set during a different decade (1940s - 1980s) and revolves around a cast of recurring characters working for the Ministry of State Security. Any resemblance to Romania is intentional as Steinhauer began writing as a Fulbright Scholar there. But then he moved to Budapest and there's a heavy Hungarian shade as well.

36 Yalta Boulevard (3rd in
Susan Decker
Dec 29, 2014 Susan Decker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first novel I have read by Olen Steinhauser, but I plan to read more. His characters are finely drawn and the plot is complicated. This is a very somber, gray work about a current/former? spy for his Eastern European totalitarian government. Although it was interesting and progressed nicely, the one overriding emotion I felt as I read the final sentence of the book is numbness, that life is, in the end, futile, and that, for some, happiness is not possible.
Brano Sev--mid-ranking officer in the security services of an unnamed Eastern European country during the Cold War--is given an opportunity to regain his position and title with a simple investigation back in his hometown: find out why a man who had recently defected to Austria has returned. What results takes Brano far from his home territory and forces him to reexamine everyone he knows.

This is Olen Steinhauer's third novel in his Yalta Boulevard Sequence. Like his previous novel, there is mor
Mal Warwick
Jun 13, 2012 Mal Warwick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this, the third novel in Olen Steinhauer’s outstanding Central European cycle, we view the world through the eyes of Brano Sev, a World War II partisan fighter turned secret policeman in his unnamed Soviet satellite country. Now, nearing 50, Brano has been working for months on the assembly line at a factory as punishment for an espionage scandal that erupted after he was sent on assignment to Vienna. Without warning, his superiors pull him out of the factory. temporarily reinstate him as a m ...more
Jul 29, 2012 Eric_W rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spies
Unfortunately, I am again reading/listening to a series out-of-order. Bridge of Sighs was first, followed by The Confession. They began in the 1940’s and by the time we reach 36 Yalta Boulevard (the fictitious address of the East European country’s --we never are quite sure which, but is typically Soviet Bloc-- spy service, the Ministry of State Security.)

Brano Sev is sent/led/tricked (we’re never quite sure which) into going to Austria where he is framed for a murder. Relegated to a factory jo
Rob Kitchin
May 12, 2012 Rob Kitchin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One ingredient of a good spy thriller is a sense of mystery, with the reader and the main protagonist not really sure quite what is happening. Steinhauer manages to maintain this uncertainty to the end of The Vienna Assignment. Just as you think you’ve got a handle on what is happening and why, the mirrors are shifted and a new view appears. The prose is mostly quite functional, but the plotting is carefully constructed, the shifting ground and mind games well framed and paced, tempting the read ...more
Jul 31, 2011 Sheri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Steinhauer is my nominee to succeed John LeCarre. His series of spy thrillers has been a delight to read. I've previously read Bridge of Sighs & The Confession. Both are set largely in Romania and peopled by the secret police who keep communism pure in their unit of the Soviet bloc. The first book was set shortly after WWII; the second was set during the Hungarian uprising (which was put down with Russian tanks). This one -- 36 Yalta Boulevard -- is set during the 1960s when the Berlin Wall ...more
Jun 09, 2011 Carmen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An exciting ride of a book. Brano Sev is in the secret intelligence business. He always does what he is told. Then one day, he is demoted to working in a factory. He doesn't know why. then he is secretly sent to Austria. There he discovers a spy ring, how people are getting out and telling secrets. In the course of this discovery, he falls in love with a young Yugoslav lady. Set before the fall of the wall, it brings all that time back in a unique way. Most of the books I have read about this ti ...more
Jan 10, 2011 Speesh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed this one. I've previously read 'The Tourist', which was also excellent, though probably more of a mainstream spy novel.
'The Vienna Assignment' is particularly good because it doesn't do, as in the main character doesn't do, what you probably expect it/him to. At least, that's how I felt anyway.
It's set in Eastern Europe - and, as Vienna and Austria are in Western Europe - Western Europe, in the mid-sixties. It's about spies, about Socialism about suspicion and trust, betrayal
May 05, 2009 Daisy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tad, Alenka, J
Lots of characters and a hard-to-follow plot but that didn't deter me. 1967 Vienna. A likable hero. An ending that leaves you wanting a little more. Nice.
Apr 14, 2013 Mardie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So far I like this one the best of the Steinhauer books I have read. The plot is very convoluted but almost predictable. I like the time period of this work.
Sep 27, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Brano Sev, the hero of Olen Steinhauer’s novel 36 Yalta Boulevard, you can see hints of Milo Weaver, the hero of his later novel The Tourist. Both men are spies. Both are lonely men, isolated from their families and friends by the work that they do. Both know how to stand up to torture, and both have father issues.

But whereas Milo Weaver is an American spy working in Europe in today’s world, Brano Sev spies for his Communist masters, the Ministry of State Security — headquartered at 36 Yalta
Sep 30, 2016 Janet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A complex and compelling mystery/spy novel. Something of a slow burn and requires some focus and concentration on the part of the reader, but generally rewarding. Many twists and turns and perhaps a bit overly convoluted. The protagonist is not particularly likeable, which is OK, but I wish his motivations were made more clear - even at the end of the book he remained largely an enigma to me. I don't have to actively root for him, but I'd like to at least understand him better.
Dec 11, 2014 Billpilgrim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is third book in the series set in an unnamed fictional Eastern European country, each book set in a different decade. We are in the 1960's now, 1967 primarily. The main character is Brano Sev, who appeared in the earlier books. He was the state security cop who was stationed with the murder investigators in the capitol city.
This book begins in Vienna in 1966, where Sev has been sent on a mission, and where he is set up to appear to be working against the state's interests. When he returns
Apr 29, 2011 Carl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The third in his series of Eastern European thrillers; this was quite different from the first two. Those were police procedurals within the milieu of the new Soviet domination of eastern Europe. Each centered on one of the militiamen, and I think the second was a better read from having read the first.

36 Yalta represents a big departure from the mood of the first two. This centers on Brano Sev, a minor figure from the earlier books, the representative of State Security ensconced in (and keepin
Gary Letham
Oct 07, 2015 Gary Letham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book three of the Yalta sequence and the story turns to Brano Sev, the secret policeman installed at the milita homicide office of the first two books. We find out Brano is a faithful servant of the system, rarely if ever questions orders and is comfortable with his own indoctrination. We meet Brano in the mid sixties just as he is turning fifty. Posted to Vienna he is charged with an assassination of a suspected traitor, but becomes the pawn in a bigger game of treachery and and family bonds. S ...more
Jul 08, 2016 Oksana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I fell in love with the intricate plot, which reveales its surprises gradually and appears controversial, each new page crossing out the previous one and leaving the reader with a constant sense of zbrka, right until the end. All the essential details are carefully scattered throughout the book, as milestones on a long way to the denouement. So, it is a solid 5 for making me feel intrigued. It is a quality spy thriller from cover to cover.

This book showed be how little I know from history. Wikip
Richard Toscan
Aug 31, 2013 Richard Toscan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This early novel by Steinhauer is wonderfully well done in its plotting and character exploration. It's particularly intriguing because of its central character, Brano Sev, an upper-level intelligence operative for his Eastern (Soviet) block country in the 1960s. It's an unusual focus in a genre where the typical villain would be the Eastern block operative. But Steinhauer makes him the "hero", if such a category can be said to exist in 36 Yalta Boulevard, and creates a character who deeply beli ...more
May 06, 2012 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listening-to
It's the 60's and the Cold War is in full swing. Brano Sev is a devoted employee for the Department of Ministry stationed in Vienna but his home is in Yugoslavia. After waking up from a hit in the head and not remembering who he was or what had happened, his life takes an unexpected turn. As he regains his memory he is banished to his homeland and reassigned to a factory job. When he's unexpectedly called back to serve his government, he considers it an opportunity to regain his former life and ...more
Jan 11, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
36 Yalta Boulevard is my second book by Olen Steinhauer. My first was the Cairo Affair which is a recent stand alone. 36 Yalta is the third of a series ... I always read things out of sequence, not by choice but because the first two books in what is called the Yalta Sequence were not available to me. So I have to find a way to obtain The Bridge of Sighs and the Confession.

Brano Sev is an interesting character, an intelligence operative from a fictitious Balkan country. Set primarily in 1966-67
M Rothenbuhler
Mar 10, 2016 M Rothenbuhler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sobering illustration of the Stockholm Syndrome becomes apparent as a physically and psychologically abused sleuth becomes somehow more and more loyal to the regime that is abusing him.

It would be a total downer, but, there are some other characters who escape in various ways; sometimes tragically.

The ending has both a surprise and a believable finality. You may never look at a Soviet colonel in quite the same light again.

While I have read few books of the spy thriller genre I plan to read mor
Strong out of the starting blocks. Solid characterization. Great pacing. Intelligent plot. Second half slogs though. Interminably. Might not have helped that I listened to the audio version, read by Russian(?) reader whose male characters all sounded essentially the same, and whose female characters sounded utterly horrid. Made for pretty insufferable listening at times. But I think I can still rate the book objectively: half very interesting (not gripping). Half pretty darned boring. Author is ...more
Aug 11, 2013 Trawets rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Major Brano Sev is an East European Intelligence Officer tasked with tracking down and either arresting or disposing of dissidents in the 1960s. He finds himself being betrayed and manipulated by both sides in Vienna, he must find those guilty of a conspiracy but at the same time protect his own back. Brano Sev is a committed Communist and has no intention of defecting even though this option is open to him, giving this story an added twist.
A great read from Olen Steinhauer.
Jeff Crosby
This is an historical thriller set in cold war Eastern Europe and Austria--part of Steinhauer's Yalta Boulevard sequence. There is a choppy style to the story that I found difficult at first. This is further hampered by a collection of largely unlikable characters. However, as details began to unfold, I found myself drawn into the pace and environment. The story is convoluted, cynical, and slightly disappointing in the end. It's similar to an Alan Furst novel but with less humanity.
Canadian 135
May 13, 2014 Canadian 135 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third in Steinhauer's Ruthenia Quartet (The Confession and Brige of Sighs), set in an unnamed Warsaw pact country. This novel features Brano Sev - a dark figure, the political spy from the previous two novels. He goes to Austria, in the 1960's, pretending to defect. This is a powerful novel, which powerfully evokes both Cold War politics and the destructive effect of the system on the soul of a man. Excellent spy novel.
Mar 11, 2014 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was introduced to Steinhauer by way of "The Confession" - a story set in Hungary of '56. "36 Yalta Boulevard" brings us to, mostly, Vienna where the storytelling is equally vivid. The narrator for the work, Yuri Rasovsky, got a view of his German pronunciations of Viennese place names a bit "off" but actually must have been corrected as he worked as they got better later on. The Hungarian Secret Service must have played quite "the games" in Cold War Vienna. Well worth the time.
Joel Margolese
A very good cold war thriller. Delves well into the characters personalities and motivations and reflects the ambivalence of the times and the difficulty in finding right and wrong for a true believer. As you'd expect in this type of novel, no one comes off really well.

I enjoyed it, but I'd rather read Alan Furst given the choice.
Ron Terpening
May 27, 2013 Ron Terpening rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Steinhauer is a master at entangling a compelling protagonist in a spellbinding web where each broken thread entraps the character (and the reader) in yet another mystery. This is an imaginative, brilliantly plotted espionage thriller, with finely detailed settings and a protagonist of marvelous complexity. Highly recommended."
From my Library Journal Review.
Sal Fernz
Jul 18, 2014 Sal Fernz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Always kept wondering what will happen next to Brani, cold warrior. Even though he drew a line in the sand long ago, we feel his conflicts and turmoil, always hoping for a change of heart, but his character is so strongly developed that we accept his station in life as he does, with resignation, honor and conviction.
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Olen Steinhauer grew up in Virginia, and has since lived in Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Texas, California, Massachusetts, and New York. Outside the US, he's lived in Croatia (when it was called Yugoslavia), the Czech Republic and Italy. He also spent a year in Romania on a Fulbright grant, an experience that helped inspire his first five books. He now lives in Hungary with his wife and dau ...more
More about Olen Steinhauer...

Other Books in the Series

The Yalta Boulevard Sequence (5 books)
  • The Bridge of Sighs (The Yalta Boulevard Sequence #1)
  • The Confession (The Yalta Boulevard Sequence #2)
  • Liberation Movements (The Yalta Boulevard Sequence #4)
  • Victory Square (The Yalta Boulevard Sequence #5)

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