Books I am reading

Monday, February 17, 2014

Trans-Siberian Express or Who is Watching Whom?

I received an advanced review copy of Trans-Siberian Express by Warren Adler through Netgalley. I have not received any other compensation.

This book was originally released in 1977, and re-released this past Dec as a Kindle book. It is a story of the cat and mouse game between the three world powers: USA, the Soviet Union and China. And most of the story takes place on the train, a seemingly confining space. But as the train rumbles across Russia and Siberia, the tension builds.

Dr. Alex Cousins is asked by the President to go to Russia to treat Soviet Politburo Chief, Viktor Moiseyevich Dimitrov, who has leukemia. Dr Cousins is uniquely qualified as a renowned doctor specializing in blood illnesses, and descendant of a Russian immigrant from Siberia, and was raised fluent in Russian. He is asked to treat Dimitrov to prolong his life as long as possible, and find out what plans Dimitrov has made as his final official act.

I do not want to expose the various lines of intrigue,  but the book is well written, the characters interesting, complex and evolve as the story progresses. A great deal of history is woven into the story, reminding me of my childhood and young adult years as the balance of power was carefully maintained. 

I had the privilege of visiting St Petersburg and Moscow in the summer of 1994, during Glasnost. We took a night train from St Petersburg to Moscow. The ever present samovar was present in the corridor, but no one was making tea or heating the water. There was no matron to clean the compartments, but there were plenty of soldiers walking up and down the train. My ride on the Russian train added a great deal to my experience of this book. 

I highly recommend this book. There is intrigue, hide&seek, love/lust, dreams and desolation. It is an excellent vehicle for young people to feel the tension of Soviet Russia in all it's complexities, and for us older folks to remember.