Moryak: A Novel of the Russian Revolution
Author: Lee Mandel
Publisher: iUniverse.com (2009)
Binding: Paperback, 564 pages
President Theodore Roosevelt learns that it is the intention of Russian Tsar Nicholas II to sabotage the Portsmouth Peace Conference in 1905. In response, he sends Lieutenant Stephen Morrison on a top secret mission with British agent Sidney Reilly to kidnap the Tsar and remove him from Russia. Morrison, a complex man, who was born in Russia, is also fluent in the language and is knowledgeable in Russian political affairs.
The mission goes awry when Morrison is captured and later sentenced to death. Through a twist of fate, he assumes the identity of the leader of the infamous Potemkin mutiny and is sent to the Imperial Labor Camp on Solovetsky Island. Due to his fearless and violent nature, he catches the attention of the Bolshevik prisoners and becomes known as "Moryak" (Russian for Sailor). Upon his release from ten years in prison, Morrison is invited to join the Bolsheviks. Soon, he is able to infiltrate Lenin's inner circle working as a spy for the Allies during the Great War. Morrison's long and complex mission comes to a harrowing conclusion on the eve of the Russian civil war.
If you have any interest in early 20th Century events leading to the Workers... Revolution and the creation of the Soviet Union, then Moryak is well-researched, well thought-out, and well-written.
Would you believe that a young Jewish man saved the life of Prince Nicholas of Czarist Russia? Would you believe that an American military officer was involved in an international plot to kidnap Czar Nicholas and his family? Would you believe that a survivor of a Russian gulag would infiltrate the inner circle of the Bolshevik Party? Would you believe that the son of a US Congressman would plan and carry out the assassination of Czar Nicholas and the royal family? The author spins a story that ties these events together into a compelling tragedy. Throughout the book, you meet "men of history" and question their actions as these well-known events unfold.
Lee Mandel's historical novel, Moryak, will take you on a ride where fact and fiction is so skillfully woven together that only a dedicated student of the Russian Revolution could identify the fabricated threads of the tapestry. A haunting possibility for aficionados of the mysterious tragedy that changed the world forever and fostered the great experiment of the 20th Century, a frolic for audiences who enjoy historic thrillers, and entertaining for those who just want to sit down with a good book on a lazy afternoon.
Reviewed by: John R. R. Faulkner (2009)