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The Amber Room: The Fate of the World's Greatest Lost Treasure

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  395 ratings  ·  57 reviews
One of mankind's greatest treasures, the Amber Room stood as a symbol of Russian glory for over two hundred years. But after the Nazi invasion, it was never seen again.

Now, in a masterpiece of detection, investigative journalists Catherine Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy have at last unraveled the jumble of evidence surrounding the Amber Room's fate. Journeying through the
...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 5th 2005 by Berkley Trade (first published June 1st 2004)
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Average rating 3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  395 ratings  ·  57 reviews


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Feisty Harriet
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: russia, art-theft
I really wanted to love this, the concept is absolutely fascinating: a room paneled in amber from the Baltic Sea, installed in Catherine II's palace near St. Petersburg and generally referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World. During WWII when the Nazi's were marching towards St. Petersburg, museum curators and art historians frantically packed up as much as they could and sent priceless art by the train load to Siberia for safe keeping. The Amber Room was left behind, museum curators could not ...more
Shannon
Sep 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: liked
This book is packed full of details - so many that it's tough to follow. Extended Russian surnames (and middle names) do not help. While assembling myriad details of the Amber Room mystery, it's necessary for the authors to include and follow through every lie, both intentional and not, fabricated story and piece of misinformation in the lexicon. It could, however, use a clearer sense of organization that the haphazard order in which they gleaned these details. Predictable Soviet and German ...more
K.
I feel like the subtitle of this book is a little deceptive: "the untold story of the greatest hoax of the twentieth century"? Yeah, it's not a hoax so much as "no one really knows what happened and maybe one dude did and was too scared to say anything so he just swept it all under the rug and sat on his hands until he died because he didn't want to end up in the hands of the KGB or the Stasi". But, you know, whatever.

ANYWAY. This is a wonderfully researched and easy to read discussion of the
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Bibliovoracious
Jun 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Good book. Lots of fascinating detail. Quite compelling for non-fiction. The journey of the researchers in itself is an incredible story - obviously, work on this book took years. The possible fates of the famous Amber Room are diverse, and one by one, are chased down at great length.

And then....there's the end. I wanted to throw it out the window! I'm like - all that time and THAT'S THE CONCLUSION YOU COME TO!? Hardly a closed case, let's just say. I was exasperated with the tidy wrap-up out
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Kasia
Apr 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I swollowed it in one go last sunday. It's a great, quick and absolutely mesmerising read.
Claudia
The Gold of the North. Balkan amber was at one time so plentiful that it was harvested from the sea with giant nets.

Two British journalists investigate the mystery of what happened to the Amber Room from it's original planning by Frederick I of Prussia to its construction by Frederick William who gifted it to Tsar Peter the Great of Russia to solidify their alliance. Finally installed during the reign of Elizabeth when it was installed and finished in the Catherine Palace. The so-called 8th
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Courtney Smith Atkins
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is a wonderfully researched book with lots of details about Russian bureaucracy. The Amber Room is a cultural beauty for the Russian people. The loss of this during WWII, created a treasure finding mission...for anyone interested! Let the lies and secrecy begin...

Realistically, the Amber Room was destroyed. The Amber Room has been re-created and is in it's home at the restored Catherine Palace.

Epic story line, the oral history is fascinating...but difficult to read in a book.
Cheryl
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
When I started this book, I was hoping for a solid, well-written, well-researched account of what had happened to the Amber Room: the Nazi theft from Russia, its placement in Koingsburg, its disappearance in the last days of WWII, the search immediately afterward, the parallel searches by the Stasi and KGB during the Cold War, and what happened after the Cold War ended. What I got was, first and foremost, the authors giving a detailed, descriptive account of every who, what, when, where, why, ...more
R.E. Thomas
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
In the early 18th Century, Prussian ruler Frederick I presented Tsar Peter the Great with a truly unique treasure: meticulously carved amber (then worth twelve times its weight in gold) that had been expertly assembled into enough wall panels to decorate an entire room. The beauty and value of the amber aside, as a work of craftsmanship the Amber Room was remarkable: imagine trying to repeat the same feat entirely from a single type of gemstone! The panels were assembled and re-assembled by the ...more
Meg
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Amber Room has fascinated me since I first learned about it on a Discovery Channel show, it was something you never learn about here in the states. The show explored a few possibilities – but nothing near the research done in this book. Basically, the Russian curator of the Catherine Palace decided it was way too risky to evacuate the fragile Amber Room when the Germans were advancing on Tsarskoye Selo. The Amber Room's construction was very complicated – probably the largest and most ...more
Kaylie O'Neill
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Most likely one of my favorite books that I have ever read, “The Amber Room” was definitely a great and interesting read. This book discusses the mystery of the Amber Room- once considered the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’- which seemed to disappear without trace after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

The amber room was a room gifted to Russia, and was entirely made out of amber, which at the time of construction was worth more than gold. Due to issues involving the fragility of the room
...more
Nancy
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the non-fiction book I wanted to read before I read a work of fiction with the same title. There ought to be a law. Anyway...
The Amber Room has been called the Eighth Wonder of the World and was a room made all of amber, gracing the Catherine Palace in Russia. It was there for over 200 years until World War II and the Nazi invasion of Russia. Then the Amber Room was taken down, stored in crates and sent to what everyone believed was safety at Königsberg Castle. After that, the
...more
Scott
Nov 10, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Amber Room was one of mankind's greatest treasures, a masterpiece of staggering ambition and value. Sent as a gift to Peter the Great of Russia, in 1717, The amber room was said to be the 'eighth wonder of the world'. And it vanished during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. The book tells the story over a 60 years period of those who were determined to find ti and restore it to its former glory. But I had challenges staying focused on the story. Some parts were extremely interesting and ...more
Michael Gerald
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
A look at one of the world's most intriguing mysteries, the authors used good research to show the history of the Amber Room: its history, descriptions of how it looked like, and the circumstances surrounding its capture by the Germans during the Second World War and its disappearance in the final months of the war in Europe. I find the authors' theory that the Soviets' negligence was one of the reasons why the treasure was captured by the Germans in the first place and why it was probably ...more
Cheryl
Jun 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
During World War II, the Nazis implemented a plan to add all of Europe's priceless art treasures to a national museum in the Reich. The Amber Room in Russia was one of the targeted items. When Russian soldiers liberated Leningrad, the Amber Room was missing from the museum at the Hermitage. Co-authors Scott and Levy attempt to trace its whereabouts and this book details their efforts. Lots of twists and turns--reads like a spy novel!
Tomi
Feb 25, 2014 rated it liked it
This book was a little hard to follow; the writing style was disjointed and jumpy. It followed the various attempts made by th Soviets and the East Germans to find the Amber Room. The authors presented a logical conclusion to the story, but recent discoveries (December of 2013) undermine that conclusion.
Valerie Kerwin
Jan 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elaine
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great book if you are interested in the fate of the Amber room before, during and after WWII. No definitive conclusions, but a riveting story on tracking down the clues and who to believe about the Amber room's fate
Gail
Jun 15, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, non-fiction, 2017
I could not figure out where this book was going and why it was taking soooo long to get there. Read the Wikipedia article on the Amber Room and it summarizes this book in less than a paragraph.
Gail
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
Excellent information.
Julie
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, own
Though offering no irrefutable conclusions as to the whereabouts of the lost Amber Room, this is an incredibly well-researched book. It presents a variety of theories investigated over the years and explores many sources such as eye witnesses and archives of various institutions and governments. I cannot deny its thoroughness, but the intrigue did not pick up pace until halfway in. Aside from the history of the Amber Room itself, the first half was tedious as the authors attempt to locate ...more
Todd Stockslager
Intriguing account of the Russian "Amber Room", originally built by Prussian king Frederick 1, and given to the Russia's Peter the Great in 1717. The room (wallboards decorated with sheets of amber) was lost during WWII after it had been captured by German soldiers overruning Leningrad and removed to Konigsburg Castle.

This popular history is told in the form of an unfolding political thriller, the most interesting aspect of which is the still-intense feeling about the loss and reparation of
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Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
This is an interesting story, with interesting characters. The problem is that the authors sometimes shone the spotlight on themselves a little too much. There are large chunks of waiting for things to happen, and the narrative generally feels unfocused. Shadow Divers did a good job of keeping the book interesting during periods when answers to the central riddle were not forthcoming; this one, not so much. (It doesn't help that there isn't much of an answer to the question in this book. The ...more
Christine
Apr 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Fascinating story, obviously really well-researched, but I felt that too much of the book became out the authors' quest for the room rather than the room itself. It makes sense when you get to the end, which I don't want to spoil, because in essence the quest is the story. The answers are so elusive, you really only get the quests--and there have been many. My biggest complaint is that the authors put too much of themselves into this, one of my pet peeves in a "scholarly" historical work. This ...more
Laura
Nov 12, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'd really like to give this book 2 and 1/2 stars. It presents an interesting mystery of what happened to the Russian Amber Room during WWII--was it destroyed in a fire? looted by Germans Nazis? looted by Soviets? is it still hidden? I won't give too much away, because you may want to read it in the future, but know that the book really isn't about the room itself, but about Russian bureaucracy and political corruption. What surfaces is essentially what you already know--governments are corrupt ...more
Clare
Jun 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The focus of this book was to try and solve one of the mysteries of World War II - What happened to the lavish, amber paneled room in the palace at St. Petersburg? During the war it was taken by the German forces and never seen again. The authors spent many months fighting through red tape and combing through pages of information to try and find out where this treasure may be now.
Although, basically a story of their search, there is so much more to this book - interesting stories of heroism,
...more
Gavin
May 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Two investigative journalists go on the track of the Amber Room. The Amber Room has, like many other very beautiful things, been described as the eighth wonder of the world.

This investigative history of the Amber Room shows that it is probably now no more, although I understand the replica in Catherine's Palace outside St. Petersburg is quite something to behold.

The observant reader would probably figure out what happened in the first two or three chapters; the books continues for about a
...more
Steve Schlutow
The book taught me the interesting history of the Amber Room.. I did not know to much about the subject, since it was not taught in my history classes, at least I do not remember the subject.. The only thing I knew about the Amber Room was from a fictionalized novel by Steve Berry (good book)... This book was interesting and taught me the history of the gift, and how it was stolen during WWII.. I guess in my ignorance of the subject I was hoping for a little more conclusiveness of its mysterious ...more
Mary
Jul 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
It is obvious that this book is written by "investigative" reporters, every tiny detail which leads to every secondary (tertiary?) character who knew anything about anything is written about in great detail. I often feel like I'm reading a court deposition. While the story itself (priceless amber-coated paneling decorating a huge (12 ft high) ballroom in Catherine the great's castle in Russia stolen by the Nazis during WWII goes missing after the war) is engrossing, the writing style of the book ...more
bibliotekker Holman
Feb 22, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm a sucker for a good story about something lost to history, but I've been pecking away at this one for a long time. The recent discoveries of something hidden in tunnels in Poland spurred me to dig back in. This is really the only serious non-fiction book that traces the history and supposed fate (probably destroyed) of the famed room. Its most redeeming qualities are the entertaining portraits of various archives (some less welcoming than others) that they delve into to find tidbits of ...more
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