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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  6,824 Ratings  ·  310 Reviews

Stalin Reborn?

There are books that you agree to review, and then there are those that you beg for -- just to have the opportunity to read it a few weeks before everyone else. I jumped at the chance to get my hands on Robert Harris's latest roller coaster, Archangel. It's been four years since the publication of Enigma -- four years since the world has had the pleasure of

Hardcover, 421 pages
Published October 13th 1998 by Hutchinson (first published September 19th 1998)
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Community Reviews

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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
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
Jan 31, 2009 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
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is difficult. It posits alternative history in one sense. But it's main tenet revolves somewhat around a continuity for the cult of Stalin. That question of depth for "our leader" is the core, IMHO. It's the most considered in scope and for the nuance to this book's plotting.

Stalin killed far more people than Hitler, there was never a "trial" about or concerning any of his practices or an "afterwards". No Nuremberg. Stalin is clearly seen in statues and memorials. And yet his answer to
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
David S.
Jan 22, 2015 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
Feb 14, 2012 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 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 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 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
Andrey Vasilyev
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great thriller. I really enjoyed it. I even found a 'Stalin House' in Archangel. I would say read this book.
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
Mar 11, 2009 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
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
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
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Apr 27, 2008 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 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 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 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...
Sofia Contreras
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Felt like I was in Russia with the detailed descriptions. Great revisionist take on Russian history.
Gonçalo Garcia
Jan 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
12/10 - Não faltava nenhuma página.
Laura S
Apr 24, 2015 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.
Nov 23, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Seemed like a good plot and but never lived up to its potential.
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shane McIntire
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a book I loved more than I thought I would. Ordinarily, I am not the biggest fan of historical fiction or books that take elements from history and bundle them into a plot we've all encountered hundreds of times. With that in mind, Robert Harris is unique among those I've encountered in that his worlds, despite all their fantastic elements, felt real and grounded. Such was the case with Archangel.

Taking place around the death of Joseph Stalin, we are lead on a page-turning journey acro
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this era of quickly changing world events, national allegiances and swirling news, Robert Harris's novel about a “what if” event in Russia makes for a tantalizing read. Although published in 2000, a lot of his dystopian views of modern Russia probably still hold true. The novel's woebegone protagonist, Fluke Kelso, (the first name is explained in the story) is attending an international conference on Russian history when he becomes entangled with a series of mysterious characters and mysterio ...more
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: entertainment
Mit "Aurora knüpft Harris an seine ersten beiden Romane "Vaterland" und "Enigma" an. Er nimmt einen eine historische Begebenheit und verknüpft sie mit mit einer fiktiven Geschichte. Nach dem Nationalsozialismus und und dem zweiten Weltkrieg widmet er sich in seinem dritten Roman Russlands Faszination für Stalin.
Angesiedelt ist der Roman im Russland der Jelzin-Jahre. Ein britischer Historiker ist in Moskau auf einer Konferenz zu Gast und erfährt vom letzten Notizbuch Stalins, dass angeblich exist
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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.” 13 likes
“Nothing is more important to a nation than its history. It is the earth upon which any society stands.” 5 likes
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