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The Man from St. Petersburg (Signet) Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 1983

4.2 out of 5 stars 296 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Ken Follett has done it once more . . . goes down with the ease and impact of a well-prepared martini." —The New York Times Book Review

"Eerily plausible . . . one of Follett's finest." —Time

"A grabber with a pace that never flags." —Cosmopolitan

"Builds with such intensity that your heart races with pounding anticipation and sticks in your throat as the climactic moments near." —Chattanooga Times-Free Press 


From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Ken Follett is the international bestselling author of suspense thrillers and the nonfiction On Wings of Eagles. He lives in England. Visit Ken Follett's official website at www.ken-follett.com.

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Product Details

  • Series: Signet
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (May 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451163516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451163516
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (296 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gregory Bascom on February 13, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This story is set London in early 1914 as Germany was mobilizing and war was inevitable to those that history would prove astute. France was in peril even if England assisted, and the British Empire itself would be at risk if the Germans prevailed. So, The First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. Winston Churchill of the Liberal government, armed with a note from King George, convinces The (conservative) Earl of Walden to negotiate a secret treaty with his wife's nephew, Alex Orlov, also nephew to the Czar, for Russia to enter into the fray. The anarchists learn of this plot however, and Feliks, The Man from St. Petersburg, has five pounds sterling and a determination to assassinate Alex Orlov on English soil.
This story is rich with the history that bored us in school, that stuff about Victorian pomp and starving Russian peasants floundering for a new political order, the prelude to communism. Follett gives us a sense of the debauchery bred from wealth and privilege, and the desperation born of inhumanities in an era gone by. He introduces us to men threatened by women's suffrage, others terrorized of government, and through them, we better understand why society changed, or perhaps mutated. That stuff is woven seamlessly into a story of intrigue without long speeches or tedious lectures. We get our lesson without having to take notes.
My only quarrel is Follett's propensity to interrupt with back-story, once with back-story within back-story if I'm not mistaken. It's a minor irritation though, one scratch and it's gone, because we are more worried about how his characters are going to sort out the mess they're in. And in the end, you're going to believe The Man from St. Petersburg might have been.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like all of Follet's novels, `The Man from St. Petersburg' is a page turner and worth picking up if you like a good historical adventure. That being said, however, this novel is not that great when compared to `Eye of The Needle', `The Key to Rebecca' and his masterpiece `The Pillars of The Earth.' Follet is a good and sometimes great writer. The problem I find with his writing is that sometimes he edits down to 300 pages what would be a great-classic epic of 1500 pages (i.e., like `Pillars of the Earth'). Sometimes the shorter form works (i.e., `Eye Of The Needle' and `Key to Rebecca' where the action is close to real time), but sometimes he shortchanges himself and the reader (i.e., `Man From St. Petersburg' and `Place called Freedom') by limiting his scope and range to be under a certain number of pages. I don't know if this is a publishing thing or what?
If given more room for characters and historical detail, Follet gives us classic epic novels like `Pillars'. When he limits himself he sometimes succeeds and sometimes misses.
More longer Follet novels are better.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
In many ways, this is vintage Ken Follett. It is fast-paced and keeps you wanting to see what is going to happen next. The writing is good and he does a good job of developing his characters and plot. He also seems to have a good feel for English society in the period immediately before WWI. Despite all this, however, I found myself less than satisfied with the overall result. He gives you Feliks, a Russian anachist and murderer who is on a misguided mission to stop an attempt to negotiate an alliance between Britain and Russia because he is convinced that millions of Russian peasants will die. It never seems to occur to him that the coming war will involve Russia anyway and that millions of peasants will die with or without an alliance. Then Follett tries to make Feliks a sympathetic character. He has been badly wronged in his life. Well, for me, it didn't work. Feliks was still a misguided terrorist bent on murder. Then you get the usual improbabilities: women whose misguided sympathies cause them to let Feliks get closer to his target than he ever would; Feliks miraculously escaping capture despite all odds; and Feliks resorting to a completely improbable tactic at the end. The climax finds Feliks resorting to a tactic that can best be described as using an elephant gun to kill a flea. He needs to flush out the Prince in order to get a shot at him, but Follett would have us accept that Feliks would endanger all that he seems to hold dear in the process. Churchill's action at the end to retrieve the situation was clever plotting, but seemed obvious to me as soon as it was clear what Feliks was going to do. I'm rather thought it would have occurred to Feliks, too. It would have been another good reason to not do what he did.
In many ways, "The Man From St. Petersburg" is a good read. For me, though, it asked me to go farther in suspending disbelief than I was prepared to go. The clever ending was a little too clever, and left me somewhat less than satisfied.
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By A Customer on February 26, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This incredible story has many parallelisms with Follett's "Eye of the Needle" novel. Instead of WWII this story takes place in the pre WWI era. England and Russia are in desperate need for a treaty in preparation of Germany's attack. A well known Russian anarchists has been sent to England to assassinate the negotiating Russian Prince hence destroying any faith between the two countries and to fulfill his quest of war against the Russian oppressed. "The Man from St. Petersburg" is more than a book filled with suspense, lust and lies-Follett makes the reader experience the hardships of Russian socialism and the glamour and prestige of the English monarchy. What is so interesting was at face value the two seem very distant, only to find out they share the same pain and turmoil. The author captures the reader with several twists of fate within the personal pasts of the anarchist's lover and now wife of a British Earl. The story leaves this reader full of questions about the hypocracy of British monarchy. It fully explains why distorting the truth to preserve one's pride of class and reputation can have devastating repercussions. This is a good read, a typical Follett masterpiece, regardless of its mirror image of "The Needle", "The Man From St. Petersburg" truely has its own identity.
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