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The Obedient Assassin: A Novel Hardcover – February 4, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Delphinium (February 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883285585
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883285586
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #628,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This historical thriller offers a reinterpretation of the assassination of Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940 by Soviet agent Ramón Mercader. The killer was an anti-Franco soldier in the Spanish Civil War when Stalin’s NKVD recruited him for the death mission, and he began a life stuffed with spy craft: the blur of false identities; the women his job required he seduce; glitzy parties with Diego Rivera and Pablo Picasso. Then the murder. But the book isn’t a beach read. The writing is densely packed, and the characters make John le Carré’s brooders look like party animals. Davidson is attempting to use the literary imagination to animate and examine these times and these people, and readerly patience is required. Did Mercader’s mother really help recruit him into this mess? And did the NKVD really intend for him to be only backup in case the real plot went haywire, as it did? History buffs will know the answers, or will dig for them, and they are whom the book is meant for. --Don Crinklaw

Review

“Reading The Obedient Assassin is like watching a great Hitchcock movie. From the first paragraph the reader is caught in a quiet undertow of suspense and swept into a fully realized story of twisted filial duty and cruel deception. In this remarkable novel, John Davidson has transformed the political murder of Leon Trotsky into a frightening, intimate, and hauntingly human crime.” (Stephen Harrigan, author of the national bestseller The Gates of the Alamo)

“From the first sentence, the quality of writing stands out in this fine novel about the events that led to Leon Trotsky's assassination--a skillful blend of history, political intrigue, culture, betrayed love, and the author's almost uncanny ability to paint a vivid picture of those times and places.” (Neil McMahon, author of Dead Silver and L.A.Mental)

Customer Reviews

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Great detail and setting up of atmosphere.
Justme
It will suck you in to the point where you might find yourself reading the last few pages while waiting at stoplights because you cant wait to get home to finish it.
shaun jordan
This is an extremely good novel – engrossing and fascinating.
S Riaz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Online Book Reviews TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The Obedient Assassin by John P. Davidson is a novelized account of the assassination of the great intellectual Leon Trotsky, who is the founder and leader of the Red Army. During the Spanish Civil War, the Republicans and the Nationalists engaged in the war were supported by Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, respectively. Twenty-two years old Lieutenant Ramon Mercader, who was hired to assassinate Trotsky, was a soldier fighting with the Republican forces.

There was a struggle for power between Joseph Stalin and Trotsky. The leadership crisis in the Soviet Union deeply impacted the Spanish Civil War and the Republican forces were losing ground. Eventually, Trotsky was exiled to Mexico. But he still wields considerable influence and a plot was hatched to assassinate him. Lieutenant Ramon Mercader was recruited by Soviet agents for the purpose.

The Obedient Assassin is an exciting read. It is not only a story of the assassination of Trotsky, but also a tale of political intrigues in the Soviet Union, the communist movement, romance and betrayal. The book is also a telling account of how Stalin ruthlessly eliminated all rivals. It is a well written book which readers will truly enjoy.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This novel begins in the Spanish Civil War, when Lieutenant Ramon Mercader is a young man of twenty two. He is in the thick of the fighting when his mother, Caridad, appears to whisk him off to Paris for a special mission. Ramon’s brother, Pablo, has recently been murdered for disobeying orders and so Ramon is understandably aware that there is little Caridad to do to protect him. Ramon’s mother is a Russian agent, utterly loyal to Stalin and Ramon is wanted to infiltrate Trotsky’s followers, who are visiting Paris for a conference. Trotsky was exiled from Russia in the 1920’s and is seen as an enemy of the Party. Ramon is given a false identity and told to befriend Sylvia Ageloff, a wealthy American Jewess, whose family are known to visit Trotsky in his Mexican hideaway. Thus begins a web of intrigue, in which Ramon, renamed Jacques, begins an affair with the highly political, intellectual Sylvia.

This novel is based on a true story. Ramon Mercader was the Spanish nationalist, enlisted to assassinate Trotsky. However, this excellent novel shows the personal and tragic side to a political assassination. Ramon begins the novel as a young man – more concerned about his love affair with the lovely Lena than in his mothers political machinations. His affair with Sylvia begins as an attempt to ensnare a young woman; to make her fall in love with him so he can use her personal knowledge of Trotsky’s whereabouts. Of course, love affairs do not come without emotion and Ramon is unable to keep his personal and political lives separate. Although he is, at least at first, unquestioning; he gradually becomes aware of what will be asked for him and the terrible consequences of his actions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on February 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The Obedient Assassin is a fictional account of Leonid Trotsky's assassination in Mexico in 1940. Stalin (at least according to the novel) was concerned that Trotsky had divided revolutionary sympathies in Spain and that he might do the same in the coming war with Germany. John Davidson's novel follows the assassin, a lieutenant in the Republican Army during the Spanish Civil War named Ramón Mercader, from his receipt of Stalin's orders to infiltrate Trotsky's organization in Paris to the aftermath of Trotsky's death. Stalin's orders are relayed through Mercader's mother, Caridad, who proved her loyalty to the Party when she did not resist the execution of Mercader's brother. Mercader hates his mother for letting his brother die but he nonetheless follows Stalin's directive.

To get close to Trotsky, Mercader must get close to Sylvia Ageloff, an American who has access to Trotsky and supports his Fourth Directive. Posing as a Belgian, Mercader arranges to meet Sylvia in Paris and eventually marries her. He later joins Sylvia in New York and Mexico, playing the dual role of husband and spy.

The Obedient Assassin is of historical more than literary interest. I'm not an historian so I can't comment upon the novel's historical accuracy, other than to note that certain events depicted in the book actually occurred and that several persons who plotted Trotsky's assassination turn up as characters (facts I gleaned from Wikipedia). Mercader often seems to be going through the motions -- "I'm doing this because the history texts say I did this" -- while the novel rarely penetrates beneath the obvious in its attempt to reveal his feelings and motivations.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Much too long. About three quarters of the way through, I got bored and quit reading.
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By Pat Tarver on June 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Book was okay. Might have been better if written as historical book versus fiction. Pictures on the web helped me better identify what people really looked like.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love historical novels and this one is among the best I've read. I was drawn in by the main character.
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