FictionFilter: Inside the Kremlin during the Cold War
December 2, 2009 4:26 PM   Subscribe

Looking for fiction heavy on Kremlin/CPSU/Politboro intrigue. I suppose Forsyth would be a given, but beyond that? I'm looking for anything written between 1980-present, but only FICTION, centering around intrigue inside the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the time of the cold war.
posted by Gerard Sorme to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Red Storm Rising, one of Clancy's first novels? It's a really good scenario of WW3 with a slow build up resulting in an all out war between Warsaw Pact and NATO

[spoiler alert] The Politburo explode a bomb in the Kremlin in order to fire up Russian popular support.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 4:45 PM on December 2, 2009

Oh you must must read Martin Cruz Smith (Gorky Park etc). Looks like an airport thriller, is actually literature. Very very enjoyable. He's a great writer.

The other big writer in this category is John Le Carre. For mine, he's basically writing the same novel over and over again, but the good iterations really are very good. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold is the ur-novel, but there's many more Ruski-focussed ones.
posted by smoke at 4:45 PM on December 2, 2009

Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park? Told from the angle of a police investigation.

Or John LeCarre?
posted by vito90 at 4:47 PM on December 2, 2009

Yep, Martin Cruz Smith. Gorky Park is great fun, Polar Star is good but not as great (imo), and I'm working my way through the rest.

Also Tom Rob Smith's Child 44. (I haven't yet read its follow-up, The Secret Speech.)

hey, I just noticed this: What's the deal with guys with three names ending in "Smith" writing about Soviet-era police investigations? /Seinfeld
posted by scody at 5:18 PM on December 2, 2009

I'll add to the Clancyfest with the Hunt for Red October and the followup Cardinal in the Kremlin, the latter being the better KGB book...

Oh and Superman: Red Son is a bit off from where you are, but an interesting political commentary...
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:25 PM on December 2, 2009

posted by musofire at 5:33 PM on December 2, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions. I'm familiar with Gorky Park but never read the book (saw the movie). I might have to take a look at some of his other works.

I'm hoping to find maybe an author who wrote a one-off about Soviet insider intrigue. Meaning, it may not be their niche, not typically "their thing," but it was really good. Example: Joseph Finder (great author of corporate thrillers) wrote a book back in 1991 (The Moscow Club) that was incredible - and is now out-of-print! I don't even know if he lists it on his author site as it was published by another publisher. I'd love to find more of those little-known books from out-of-the-blue authors.

Any more? I'm checking Amazon and wishlisting some of the ideas.

Thanks again!
posted by Gerard Sorme at 5:39 PM on December 2, 2009

I don't think Gorky Park can really be overstated. In addition to capturing the Cold War-era Russia you're looking for, it truly is fantastic writing; Arkady Renko is one of my favorite protagonists of all time. It's frankly amazing how much well you get to know Renko, even when Cruz works so hard to avoid giving you any of Arkady's inner dialogue. Please do pick it up.
posted by jpolchlopek at 6:10 PM on December 2, 2009

Perhaps some Craig Thomas who's most famous for Firefox.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:39 PM on December 2, 2009

Definitely check out some of Clancy's books about Russia and the Cold War as mentioned above. Very good reads and worth your time.
posted by dealing away at 8:41 PM on December 2, 2009

'Harlot's Ghost' -- Norman Mailer.

Haven't read it, but if it's anywhere near the quality of 'The Executioner's Song,' you ought to do just fine.
posted by Darth Fedor at 12:32 PM on December 3, 2009

Nthing Cardinal Of The Kremlin - great espionage thriller. Well-researched. Gets into both the workings of the KGB and the GRU.

Le Carre, definitely.

Ludlum and Follett.

Craig Thomas - yes, although he's a bit more techno than Le Carre or Ludlum.

Finally - a book called "The Company" which is a CIA/KGB book which is fiction, but steeped heavily in some actual events. Great read.
posted by Thistledown at 7:54 PM on December 3, 2009

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