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Lenin's Harem Hardcover – December 6, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Lenin's Harem is a different kind of thriller, kind of what you'd get if you married Dostoyevsky with Daniel Silva. Mostly tragic quirks of fate cast the saga-like book's Latvian hero Witkor Rooks as a member of the Russian army's elite Red Riflemen corps, aka "Lenin's Harem," as he's swept away by the Bolshevik Revolution. But the real fun starts well after the war is over and his past comes calling again when McCormick's debut takes on the feel of an Irwin Shaw or Herman Wouk tale. Broad, ambitious, and plenty good." - Jon Land for The Providence Sunday Journal

"A riveting story. You can't put this one down." - Boulder City Magazine

"Lenin's Harem is an important historical fiction work that offers clarity to a complex and tumultuous time in Russian history. A prodigious and gripping read." - The Historical Novels Review
 

             


"Lenin's Harem is a different kind of thriller, kind of what you'd get if you married Dostoyevsky with Daniel Silva. Mostly tragic quirks of fate cast the saga-like book's Latvian hero Witkor Rooks as a member of the Russian army's elite Red Riflemen corps, aka "Lenin's Harem," as he's swept away by the Bolshevik Revolution. But the real fun starts well after the war is over and his past comes calling again when McCormick's debut takes on the feel of an Irwin Shaw or Herman Wouk tale. Broad, ambitious, and plenty good." --Jon Land for The Providence Sunday Journal

"A riveting story. You can't put this one down." --Boulder City Magazine

"Lenin's Harem is an important historical fiction work that offers clarity to a complex and tumultuous time in Russian history. A prodigious and gripping read." --The Historical Novels Review

"An engrossing and well managed piece of writing, chronicling a fascinating and turbulent period of Russian and Latvian history while never once losing sight of the need to drive the narrative through the personal tale of its hero, Wiktor Rooks." --Martyn Bedford, Costa shortlisted author of Flip

"Born to an aristocratic life of wealth and privilege, but driven from the family home by resentful Latvian peasants, a young German struggles to survive and protect his love from the brutalities of a domineering brother, class struggle, war, and communist rule. The attention to historical detail and depth of introspection are worthy of Pasternak or Solzhenitsyn. Enthralling, reads as true as my grandfather's letters." --Daniel Wagner, former Dean of the CIA's Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis

"William Burton McCormick vividly depicts the tragedies of the 20th century through eyes of a single Latvian Rifleman. With Wiktor Rooks, we witness the destruction of traditional society and its seemingly conservative values, to be replaced with new social, political and national ideas, innovations all ultimately perverted to hell by their adherents. The novel considers the eternal problems of humanity as cast through the dark prism of actual historical events." --Professor Kaspars Klavins, Riga Technical University and Fellow, Royal Society of Arts (UK)

"William Burton McCormick takes us right inside lives that would otherwise be not simply invisible to us but unimaginable." --Suzannah Dunn, author of The Confession of Katherine Howard

About the Author

William McCormick graduated from Brown University with a degree in ancient studies and earned an MA in novel writing from the University of Manchester. In March 2012, his short fiction was nominated for the Short Mystery Fiction Society's prestigious Derringer Award.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Knox Robinson Publishing; 1 edition (December 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190848344X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908483447
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,503,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Burton McCormick was born in Maryland and raised in Nevada. He has lived in seven countries including Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia and Russia solely for the purpose of writing.

William graduated from Brown University with degrees in Ancient Studies and Computer Science and earned an MA in Novel Writing from the University of Manchester. He has won awards in the production of entertainment and educational software, co-owned a company to reduce junk e-mail, and worked as an executive recruiter in the Washington D.C. area.

He was elected a Hawthornden Fellow in 2013.

William's fiction has appeared in "The Saturday Evening Post," "Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine," "Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine," "Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine," and "Over My Dead Body!" He is a three-time Derringer Finalist and member of Mystery Writers of America, the Crime Writers Association and International Thriller Writers.

"McCormick takes us inside lives that would otherwise be unimaginable."
--Suzannah Dunn, author of The Queen of Subtleties

Customer Reviews

Hated to put the book down until finished.
Roland Fraga
McCormick's writing is engaging, and the story is beautifully written!
GreatBooksGirl
It did read more like a history book than a novel for me.
JanetSimcic

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By k pelham on November 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
People like to toss the adjective "great" around so much it doesn't really mean much. I don't do that in reviews, unless I really mean it. And this book truly is great.
McCormick delivers a novel that pulls you in immediately and doesn't release you until you finish the last page. Never slow, never dull, even though it spans decades, and it's populated with vibrant characters throughout, right down to the peripheral characters.
I loved this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Dean Murphy on December 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This historical thriller is about a young Latvian-German aristocrat swept up in the turbulence of World War I, told by the point of view of outsiders, from the perspective of those living in Latvia. By twist of fate, he finds himself a member of the Russian Revolution's Red Riflemen, a group known colloquially as "Lenin's Harem." Aristocratic Wiktor Rooks adapts, survives, finds friendship and love among the Communists, and is betrayed in Stalin's purges. The tale is comprised of three tragic seductions--an unscrupulous woman, a doomed nation, and a treacherous ideology.

McCormick added, "In short, LENIN'S HAREM is the story of a ruined aristocrat swept up in the chaos of war, who by twist of fate finds himself a member of the elite guard of the Russian Revolution. He hides in plain sight amongst his enemies while the Russian Empire crumbles, but where does he go when the revolutionaries win?"

McCormick said several scenes make the novel compelling. "There are many gripping passages in the novel, from the trench scenes in World War I where dying men fight over a solitary mask during a gassing attack, to a doomed love affair revealed at the worst possible time, to a late scene where the hero must decide between his own brother, and his wife. The book has 'lesser evils' scenarios and the impossible choices one makes in war."

Inspiration for the plot came when McCormick, "learned about 'Lenin's Harem'--the Red Latvian Riflemen of the Russian Revolution--from several history books. I was moved by their story, largely unknown in the West, and how these soldiers went from being peasants in a tiny holding of the Russian Empire to kingmakers for what would become the Soviet Union.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sandy on August 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Indeed, McCormick has succeeded in enlightening us regarding the Latvian history without totally overshadowing his main character's great journey. I was entranced from the start with this richly detailed and emotionally powerful story which I continue to highly recommend. Suffice to say, you will not be disappointed and may also desire to share this with family, friends, local libraries, schools, etc. Sandy Hill
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Format: Paperback
This period in history has always fascinated me, though I was in ignorance about the Latvian issues. Not any more; now I know. Mcormick has produced a book of vast scope yet deep intimacy. His feeling for the period, the country and the Latvians and Russians shines through on every page of this first person narrative.

Wiktor Rooks and his brother Otomars are made homeless in the turbulent uprisings of 1905, and lucky to get away with their lives. Their manor was but one of two hundred that burned to the ground that winter.

Some nine years later, Wiktor is a Lieutenant in the Russian army, fighting the Germans. We share Wiktor's privations and despair. The German chlorine gas attack is a particularly fine example of writing.

`... the gas pooled thicker in still places; a dark clover lurking in the hollow of an oak tree; seeping into old footprints; lying still on a mud puddle; or sleeping in the shadows of marker stones... Wherever there was shelter from a breeze the gas congealed. Like the spirits of those killed seeking to hide from Gabriel's gathering chariot.'

At the end of the war, Wiktor can become a professor of astronomy - yet he's unavoidably embroiled in spying, informing - until he too is regarded as suspect in the paranoid society tainted by Stalin.

`Only the dead have seen the end of war, Wiktor,' Otomars declared, presciently. When Wiktor and his wife Kaiva are taken away in the middle of the night, the suspense and horror are palpable. For the second time in his life, communists have forced him from his home. A book of betrayal, survival, brotherhood, identity and love that will linger in the mind after the last page has been turned.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished reading Lenin's Harem, and I loved it! I kept sneaking a read of a chapter here and there at work because I was so engaged in the story. I did not want to put it down.

This is a part of history I knew very little about before, and really enjoyed learning more. The immense amount of research the author put into the places, events, culture, etc. was evident. Like other reviewers, it inspired me to do some reading on my own about Latvian history.

I particularly enjoyed the balance the author created between moving the story along and developing the characters in the historical context without either one taking over. It was more than just a history lesson, and much more than a superficial story of the characters' struggles.

McCormick's writing is engaging, and the story is beautifully written! Highly recommend.
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