Seventeen Moments of Spring

Iulian Semenov, Author Calder Publications $23.95 (311p) ISBN 978-0-7145-4140-2
In the closing days of WW II, top Soviet agent Maxim Isaev, who has wormed his way into the SD (the Nazi security service) as Standartenfuhrer Von Stirlitz, has scored a brilliant success in undermining the Nazi atomic weapons program. Now his masters in Moscow involve him in a new project: finding out who among the Nazi leaders is negotiating a separate peace with the West (which would undermine Stalin's plans for Eastern Europe). Dogged by the Gestapo, ``Von Stirlitz'' maneuvers through an ever-tightening web. Semyonov has been called the Russian Le Carre, but a more apt comparison would be Manning Coles: the novel recalls A Toast to Tomorrow , without the jokiness of that 1940s classic. Certainly, compared with Le Carre's characteristic brooding on moral ambiguities and betrayal, Semyonov's work is downright sunny. He's an expert mimic of voices--from that of the bureaucrat to the inner cries of a fugitive on the run. His historical reading of the period is sophisticated and unideological. All told, this espionage novel is satisfying on every level . (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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