AZEF by Roman Goul


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This is a somewhat somber, somewhat stirring memoir-novel of Russia's revolutionary underground in the early 1900's The theme is comparable to Dostoevsky's The Possessed the style suggestive of Andrey sharp-flashing simplicity. It is, of course, the equal of neither, but the non-fictional characters, the conspirators, the secret police, the military, all move through atmosphere-laden tableaux of Petersburg and Moscow, of Geneva and Paris with an existential excitement, a slow-grinding obsessive suspense. Azef is the sinister merchant, of ""scowling eyes and extraordinary calm"", the Terrorist head and mentor of Savinkov, a poem crazed dandy and ardent idealist. It is the latter's disillusionment and spiritual degeneration which highlights the drama; Savinkov pitilessly dissects his wife's love, learns to kill out of boredom, then gives himself up to Montmartre abandonment after discovering Azef to be an agent provacateur and traitor to the party. Old emigre Roman Goul's ""Inside-story"" offers indeed revealing, rewarding portraits from the pre-Lenin era.

Publisher: Doubleday