New Books in Historical Fiction https://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com Just another New Books Network podcast Sun, 10 Feb 2013 19:30:17 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.2 Copyright © New Books Network 2011 marshallpoe@gmail.com (C. P. Lesley) marshallpoe@gmail.com (C. P. Lesley) 1440 https://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com/wp-content/nbn_square_logos/historicalfiction_300x300.png New Books in Historical Fiction https://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com 144 144 Discussions with writers of historical fiction about their new books Discussions with writers of historical fiction about their new books history, fiction, writers, writing C. P. Lesley C. P. Lesley marshallpoe@gmail.com no no Julius Wachtel, “Stalin’s Witnesses” https://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com/2013/01/17/julius-wachtel-stalins-witnesses-knox-robinson-publishing-2012/ https://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com/2013/01/17/julius-wachtel-stalins-witnesses-knox-robinson-publishing-2012/#comments Thu, 17 Jan 2013 15:54:31 +0000 C. P. Lesley https://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com/historicalfiction/?p=50

When does history become performance art?

In 1936, Joseph Stalin set out to eliminate any communist leader with sufficient prestige to threaten his monopoly on power. In what became known as the Great Terror, he instigated a series of show trials, with scripts written by his political police and entirely false charges, designed to cover up the mistakes of his forced industrialization and collectivization drives by blaming his rivals—especially his arch-rival, Leon Trotsky, by then in exile from the USSR.

The first trial succeeded in terms of Stalin’s larger goal: the political police convinced the defendants to confess to their “crimes” in open court. Convicted of plotting against Stalin, the leaders were promptly shot. The purges rippled out from the center, sweeping up hundreds of thousands of mid-level bureaucrats and intellectuals throughout the Soviet Union.

But the international community remained skeptical of trials that relied solely on confessions. So for the next show trial, held in 1937, Stalin’s police selected five witnesses to corroborate the faked charges against a new group of defendants. Julius Wachtel’s Stalin’s Witnesses (Knox Robinson Publishing, 2012) explores the identity, careers, and psychology of these five men—and especially of Vladimir Romm, a journalist, diplomat, and Soviet spy who served in Washington, DC, for two years before his recall and arrest in August 1936.

In Stalin’s Russia, fiction often seemed less fantastic than history. To understand the tragedy wreaked on individual lives by the state as performance artist, you can’t do better than to read Julius Wachtel’s Stalin’s Witnesses.

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https://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com/2013/01/17/julius-wachtel-stalins-witnesses-knox-robinson-publishing-2012/feed/ 0 0:53:12 When does history become performance art? In 1936, Joseph Stalin set out to eliminate any communist leader with sufficient prestige to threaten his monopoly on power. In what became known as the Great Terror, he instigated a series of show trials, w[...] When does history become performance art? In 1936, Joseph Stalin set out to eliminate any communist leader with sufficient prestige to threaten his monopoly on power. In what became known as the Great Terror, he instigated a series of show trials, with scripts written by his political police and entirely false charges, designed to cover up the mistakes of his forced industrialization and collectivization drives by blaming his rivals—especially his arch-rival, Leon Trotsky, by then in exile from the USSR. The first trial succeeded in terms of Stalin’s larger goal: the political police convinced the defendants to confess to their “crimes” in open court. Convicted of plotting against Stalin, the leaders were promptly shot. The purges rippled out from the center, sweeping up hundreds of thousands of mid-level bureaucrats and intellectuals throughout the Soviet Union. But the international community remained skeptical of trials that relied solely on confessions. So for the next show trial, held in 1937, Stalin’s police selected five witnesses to corroborate the faked charges against a new group of defendants. Julius Wachtel’s Stalin’s Witnesses (Knox Robinson Publishing, 2012) explores the identity, careers, and psychology of these five men—and especially of Vladimir Romm, a journalist, diplomat, and Soviet spy who served in Washington, DC, for two years before his recall and arrest in August 1936. In Stalin’s Russia, fiction often seemed less fantastic than history. To understand the tragedy wreaked on individual lives by the state as performance artist, you can’t do better than to read Julius Wachtel’s Stalin’s Witnesses. C. P. Lesley no no
Karen Engelmann, “The Stockholm Octavo” https://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com/2012/12/20/karen-engelmann-the-stockholm-octavo-ecco-books-2012/ https://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com/2012/12/20/karen-engelmann-the-stockholm-octavo-ecco-books-2012/#comments Thu, 20 Dec 2012 22:35:43 +0000 C. P. Lesley https://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com/historicalfiction/?p=39

It’s 1789, and despite the troubles in France, Emil Larsson, a sekretaire in the Customs Office in Stockholm, has life pretty much where he wants it. His job brings him lucrative under-the-table deals with pirates, smugglers, and innkeepers—not to mention a dashing red cape that appeals to the ladies—and he has managed to parlay his skill as a gambler into a partnership with the mysterious Mrs. Sparrow, owner of a prestigious private club dedicated to games of chance.

But when the head of the Customs Office announces that every sekretaire must marry if he wishes to keep his post, Emil sees his carefree existence slipping away. Mrs. Sparrow offers to help by casting an octavo—a set of eight predictive cards representing key figures whom Emil must identify and manipulate to achieve his predicted future of love and connection. As Emil moves about the Town (Stockholm), every encounter assumes new meaning. Is this his Prisoner? His Key? His Courier?

We don’t know, and neither does he. But as Emil’s quest continues, the stakes rise. The situation in France deteriorates; and the future of the Swedish monarchy and its king, Gustav III, increasingly hinges on Emil’s ability to decipher his octavo and influence the contest between Mrs. Sparrow and the fascinating Uzanne—mistress of the fan, foe of the king, and the person most likely to prevent Emil from attaining his goals.

Fans of historical mystery and political intrigue will love Karen Engelmann’s “irresistible cipher between two covers—an atmospheric tale of many rogues and a few innocents gambling on politics and romance in the cold, cruel north”—as Susann Cokal characterizes The Stockholm Octavo (ecco Books, 2012) in the New York Times Book Review (December 9, 2012).

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https://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com/2012/12/20/karen-engelmann-the-stockholm-octavo-ecco-books-2012/feed/ 0 0:50:27 It’s 1789, and despite the troubles in France, Emil Larsson, a sekretaire in the Customs Office in Stockholm, has life pretty much where he wants it. His job brings him lucrative under-the-table deals with pirates, smugglers, and innkeepers—not to m[...] It’s 1789, and despite the troubles in France, Emil Larsson, a sekretaire in the Customs Office in Stockholm, has life pretty much where he wants it. His job brings him lucrative under-the-table deals with pirates, smugglers, and innkeepers—not to mention a dashing red cape that appeals to the ladies—and he has managed to parlay his skill as a gambler into a partnership with the mysterious Mrs. Sparrow, owner of a prestigious private club dedicated to games of chance. But when the head of the Customs Office announces that every sekretaire must marry if he wishes to keep his post, Emil sees his carefree existence slipping away. Mrs. Sparrow offers to help by casting an octavo—a set of eight predictive cards representing key figures whom Emil must identify and manipulate to achieve his predicted future of love and connection. As Emil moves about the Town (Stockholm), every encounter assumes new meaning. Is this his Prisoner? His Key? His Courier? We don’t know, and neither does he. But as Emil’s quest continues, the stakes rise. The situation in France deteriorates; and the future of the Swedish monarchy and its king, Gustav III, increasingly hinges on Emil’s ability to decipher his octavo and influence the contest between Mrs. Sparrow and the fascinating Uzanne—mistress of the fan, foe of the king, and the person most likely to prevent Emil from attaining his goals. Fans of historical mystery and political intrigue will love Karen Engelmann’s “irresistible cipher between two covers—an atmospheric tale of many rogues and a few innocents gambling on politics and romance in the cold, cruel north”—as Susann Cokal characterizes The Stockholm Octavo (ecco Books, 2012) in the New York Times Book Review (December 9, 2012). C. P. Lesley no no
Julian Berengaut, “The Estate of Wormwood and Honey” https://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com/2012/11/20/julian-berengaut-the-estate-of-wormwood-and-honey-russian-estate-books-2012/ https://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com/2012/11/20/julian-berengaut-the-estate-of-wormwood-and-honey-russian-estate-books-2012/#comments Tue, 20 Nov 2012 19:56:09 +0000 C. P. Lesley https://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com/historicalfiction/?p=14

Illegitimacy doesn’t mean much in today’s Europe and North America. In an age when we celebrate many different kinds of families, “bastard” has become an epithet thrown, most often inaccurately, at someone who upsets you. But that was not always true. In early 19th-century Russia, for example, you could marry in one church only to have the marriage denied in another, leaving your children unable to inherit, stripped even of your name. This reality defined the lives of fictional people, such as Pierre Bezukhov in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and real ones—for example, Alexander Herzen, the Russian socialist writer who took refuge in London after falling foul of Tsar Nicholas I. It defines the life of Nicolas Nijinsky, hero of The Estate of Wormwood and Honey (Russian Estate Books, 2012).

Nicolas’s early life as the cherished only son of a rural nobleman vanishes in an instant when his mother dies and his father remarries. As a child, he cannot understand why abuse and mistreatment infringe on his carefree life or why his beloved father exiles him to an elite military school, where his fellow cadets do not hesitate to throw his questionable birth in his face. His only friend is Sergey, the equally despised son of a noncommissioned officer killed at the Battle of Borodino. Soon Sergey becomes the scapegoat for another rich man’s son, and Nicolas must face his tormentors alone. Until, fifteen years later, his fortunes change, and he returns to his childhood home with Sergey at his side and one goal in mind: to settle scores with those who drove him away.

Follow us into the past as Julian Berengaut kicks off New Books in Historical Fiction by discussing The Estate of Wormwood and Honey. For Russian literature buffs everywhere. I am your host, C. P. Lesley, and I hope you will join me for many such conversations.

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https://newbooksinhistoricalfiction.com/2012/11/20/julian-berengaut-the-estate-of-wormwood-and-honey-russian-estate-books-2012/feed/ 0 0:49:19 Illegitimacy doesn’t mean much in today’s Europe and North America. In an age when we celebrate many different kinds of families, “bastard” has become an epithet thrown, most often inaccurately, at someone who upsets you. But[...] Illegitimacy doesn’t mean much in today’s Europe and North America. In an age when we celebrate many different kinds of families, “bastard” has become an epithet thrown, most often inaccurately, at someone who upsets you. But that was not always true. In early 19th-century Russia, for example, you could marry in one church only to have the marriage denied in another, leaving your children unable to inherit, stripped even of your name. This reality defined the lives of fictional people, such as Pierre Bezukhov in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and real ones—for example, Alexander Herzen, the Russian socialist writer who took refuge in London after falling foul of Tsar Nicholas I. It defines the life of Nicolas Nijinsky, hero of The Estate of Wormwood and Honey (Russian Estate Books, 2012). Nicolas’s early life as the cherished only son of a rural nobleman vanishes in an instant when his mother dies and his father remarries. As a child, he cannot understand why abuse and mistreatment infringe on his carefree life or why his beloved father exiles him to an elite military school, where his fellow cadets do not hesitate to throw his questionable birth in his face. His only friend is Sergey, the equally despised son of a noncommissioned officer killed at the Battle of Borodino. Soon Sergey becomes the scapegoat for another rich man’s son, and Nicolas must face his tormentors alone. Until, fifteen years later, his fortunes change, and he returns to his childhood home with Sergey at his side and one goal in mind: to settle scores with those who drove him away. Follow us into the past as Julian Berengaut kicks off New Books in Historical Fiction by discussing The Estate of Wormwood and Honey. For Russian literature buffs everywhere. I am your host, C. P. Lesley, and I hope you will join me for many such conversations. C. P. Lesley no no