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It's easy for a person to begin to confuse their subjective perceptions with reality. Do this long enough, and the person becomes convinced that anyone who disagrees with them is either perverse or stupid. Naturally, a successful person is more likely to fall into this trap. That syndrome is one that Eric Ambler deftly explores in Judgment on Deltchev in such an effective way that the book actually transcends the spy thriller genre into universality. This is one of my three favorite Eric Ambler novels. If you haven't read it yet, you're in for a major treat!
At the height of the Cold War, Foster, a London West End dramatist is invited to write a series of articles in what seems to be a political show trial of Yordan Deltchev behind the Iron Curtain. Deltchev had been a moderate leader in the revolution that brought the currrent government into power. The charges against him are assumed by Foster to respresent a final way to liquidate Deltchev's party, because Deltchev is accused of conspiring with the group that he had personally opposed. Like the protagonists in many of Eric Ambler's best novels, Foster is hopelessly naive and inexperienced for the challenges he is about to face. Only his good intentions can hope to save him . . . but too often his good intentions put him into dangerous situations.
As the trial develops, many unexpected events occur and Foster finds himself unpeeling the onion of a complex mystery concerning what the real agendas behind the trial are. In the process, he learns a lot about himself and human nature in general. He faces important ethical challenges, ones that will leave you wondering what you would have done in the same situation. As a result, you'll find yourself walking in Foster's steps and sharing his reality. It's a chilling trip.
One of several fascinating areas this book explores is the connection between whom we trust and whom we do not. Foster gradually learns to cross-check his information, and digs to the bottom of many cross-currents of plots and subplots among the competing characters in the political tempest of a totalitarian regime. We can all learn a lot of good lessons from this story in overcoming out own shortsightedness about finding the truth.
Learn to appreciate the fragile and delicate beauty of truth . . . and how to seek it.
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The Slippery Nature of Reality May 4, 2003 [Edit Review]
It's easy for a person to begin to confuse their subjective perceptions with reality. Do this long enough, and the person becomes convinced that anyone who disagrees with them is either perverse or stupid. Naturally, a successful person is more likely to fall into this trap. That syndrome is one that Eric Ambler deftly explores in Judgment on Deltchev in such an effective way that the book actually transcends the spy thriller genre into universality. This is one of my three favorite Eric Ambler novels. If you haven't read it yet, you're in for a major treat!
At the height of the Cold War, Foster, a London West End dramatist is invited to write a series of articles in what seems to be a political show trial of Yordan Deltchev behind the Iron Curtain. Deltchev had been a moderate leader in the revolution that brought the currrent government into power. The charges against him are assumed by Foster to respresent a final way to liquidate Deltchev's party, because Deltchev is accused of conspiring with the group that he had personally opposed. Like the protagonists in many of Eric Ambler's best novels, Foster is hopelessly naive and inexperienced for the challenges he is about to face. Only his good intentions can hope to save him . . . but too often his good intentions put him into dangerous situations.
As the trial develops, many unexpected events occur and Foster finds himself unpeeling the onion of a complex mystery concerning what the real agendas behind the trial are. In the process, he learns a lot about himself and human nature in general. He faces important ethical challenges, ones that will leave you wondering what you would have done in the same situation. As a result, you'll find yourself walking in Foster's steps and sharing his reality. It's a chilling trip.
One of several fascinating areas this book explores is the connection between whom we trust and whom we do not. Foster gradually learns to cross-check his information, and digs to the bottom of many cross-currents of plots and subplots among the competing characters in the political tempest of a totalitarian regime. We can all learn a lot of good lessons from this story in overcoming out own shortsightedness about finding the truth.
Learn to appreciate the fragile and delicate beauty of truth . . . and how to seek it.
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And who better to cover a Cold War, Soviet-bloc show trial for an American newspaper than a well-known British actor? That is the question posed to London-based actor, Foster, who accepts an assignment to write a series or articles about the show trial of Jordan Deltchev. Foster's adventures covering the trial form the basis of what just may be Eric Ambler's best novel, "Judgment on Deltchev".

For those not familiar with his work, Ambler was to the modern British spy novel what Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett were to the American detective novel. Ambler transformed the spy novel from a simplistic black and white world of perfect good guys versus nefarious bad guys into a far more realistic world where sometimes the difference between good and evil is not all that great.

Typically, Ambler would take an unassuming, unsuspecting spectator and immerse him in a world of mystery and intrigue in pre and post-World War II Europe. The result was a series of highly entertaining and satisfying books that many believe set the stage for the likes of le Carre, Deighton, and, most recently, Alan Furst.

In Judgment on Deltchev, no sooner does the actor-turned- reporter Foster arrive at this unnamed Eastern bloc nation for the trial than he and is immediately caught in the swirl of intrigue surrounding it. Deltchev has been accused of being the mastermind behind a secret terror-society, "The Brotherhood"; plot to assassinate the `ruler', the nation's Stalin-like leader even though Deltchev himself had helped crush The Brotherhood in the not so distant past. Foster's first impression is that his local assistant is incompetent and that Deltchev is, of course, completely innocent. First impressions are often deceiving however and the more Foster learns the more he realizes how little he actually knows. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, the trial and the plot unfolds like a mystery wrapped in an enigma. As the plot develops Foster meets Deltchev's wife and daughter, government/party functionaries, and other foreign reporters who may or may not be stool pigeons for the government.

As always, Ambler brings a keen eye for character detail and plot development to his stories. His characters seem realistic and far from the pure black and white world that predominated the genre before Ambler's arrival. It is also interesting to note that this was Ambler's first book written in his name after the close of World War II. In his previous books set during the 1930s he had a series of recurring Soviet characters that he always portrayed with a sympathetic eye. This no doubt reflected the view that both Britain and the USSR had more in common (a common enemy in Nazism) than differences. Judgment on Deltchev represents a Cold War change in focus. This change in focus reflected the times and was soon followed by Ian Fleming and John Le Carre.

Judgment on Deltchev was an excellent book; one of Ambler's finest in my opinion. Highly recommended. L. Fleisig
0Comment|14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
It's easy for a person to begin to confuse their subjective perceptions with reality. Do this long enough, and the person becomes convinced that anyone who disagrees with them is either perverse or stupid. Naturally, a successful person is more likely to fall into this trap. That syndrome is one that Eric Ambler deftly explores in Judgment on Deltchev in such an effective way that the book actually transcends the spy thriller genre into universality. This is one of my three favorite Eric Ambler novels. If you haven't read it yet, you're in for a major treat!
At the height of the Cold War, Foster, a London West End dramatist is invited to write a series of articles in what seems to be a political show trial of Yordan Deltchev behind the Iron Curtain. Deltchev had been a moderate leader in the revolution that brought the currrent government into power. The charges against him are assumed by Foster to respresent a final way to liquidate Deltchev's party, because Deltchev is accused of conspiring with the group that he had personally opposed. Like the protagonists in many of Eric Ambler's best novels, Foster is hopelessly naive and inexperienced for the challenges he is about to face. Only his good intentions can hope to save him . . . but too often his good intentions put him into dangerous situations.
As the trial develops, many unexpected events occur and Foster finds himself unpeeling the onion of a complex mystery concerning what the real agendas behind the trial are. In the process, he learns a lot about himself and human nature in general. He faces important ethical challenges, ones that will leave you wondering what you would have done in the same situation. As a result, you'll find yourself walking in Foster's steps and sharing his reality. It's a chilling trip.
One of several fascinating areas this book explores is the connection between whom we trust and whom we do not. Foster gradually learns to cross-check his information, and digs to the bottom of many cross-currents of plots and subplots among the competing characters in the political tempest of a totalitarian regime. We can all learn a lot of good lessons from this story in overcoming out own shortsightedness about finding the truth.
Learn to appreciate the fragile and delicate beauty of truth . . . and how to seek it.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
It's easy for a person to begin to confuse one's subjective perceptions with reality. Do this long enough, and the person becomes convinced that anyone who disagrees with them is either perverse or stupid. Naturally, a successful person is more likely to fall into this trap. That syndrome is one that Eric Ambler deftly explores in Judgment on Deltchev in such an effective way that the book actually transcends the spy thriller genre into universality. This is one of my three favorite Eric Ambler novels. If you haven't read it yet, you're in for a major treat!
At the height of the Cold War, Foster, a London West End dramatist is invited to write a series of articles in what seems to be a political show trial of Yordan Deltchev behind the Iron Curtain. Deltchev had been a moderate leader in the revolution that brought the currrent government into power. The charges against him are assumed by Foster to respresent a final way to liquidate Deltchev's party, because Deltchev is accused of conspiring with the group that he had personally opposed. Like the protagonists in many of Eric Ambler's best novels, Foster is hopelessly naive and inexperienced for the challenges he is about to face. Only his good intentions can hope to save him . . . but too often his good intentions put him into dangerous situations. In the background are numbers of people who accommodate the current government in a variety of ways such as Georghi Pashik, the local press representative whom Foster relies on, and Sibley, the reporter.
As the trial develops, many unexpected events occur and Foster finds himself unpeeling the onion of a complex mystery concerning what the real agendas behind the trial are. In the process, he learns a lot about himself and human nature in general. He faces important ethical challenges, ones that will leave you wondering what you would have done in the same situation. As a result, you'll find yourself walking in Foster's steps and sharing his reality. It's a chilling trip.
One of several fascinating areas this book explores is the connection between whom we trust and whom we do not. Foster, like most, is attracted to those whose views he understands and approves of, those who are physically attractive, and those who he enjoys being with. Yet the information he receives that is helpful often comes from what would appear to be obviously untrustworthy or discredited sources. He gradually learns to cross-check his information, and digs to the bottom of many cross-currents of plots and subplots among the competing characters in the political tempest of a totalitarian regime. We can all learn a lot of good lessons from this story in overcoming out own shortsightedness about finding the truth.
Learn to appreciate the fragile and delicate beauty of truth . . . and how to seek it.
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on 16 February 2013
Much better written and thought out than much of the modern "thrillers" churned out today. The atmosphere of the time well created and the plot interesting. I wanted to finish in one reading.
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on 2 June 2016
Playwright turned journalist Foster is despatched to cover the show trial of the former leader of a small country trapped between east and west during the cold war. Determined to unravel the layers of conspiracy but ill equipped to understand the political manoeuvring our hero blunders around between the enemy lines not sure who to trust and getting into increasing danger. Written in 1952 the setting is historic now but the quality of the writing and the continued relevance of themes of propaganda and spin keep it relevant and accessible.
I received a free copy of this e-book in return for an honest review.
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on 18 August 2013
... until I bought ANOTHER copy of Deltchev. It's not easy to read; there's no 'easy' plot to follow; you need to bear with it, and remember that perceptions can usurp reality - it's a great exploration of the subjective opinions of an outside influence on a situation. The ethical challenges explored are such, and written in such a way, that it was easy to wonder what the decisions could have been, would have been, for any other protagonist: the whole point of the book, in some ways, is to challenge the readers' perceptions of right and wrong, in chilling situations.
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on 16 December 2015
This folllows the standard Ambler plot of innocent Englishman going abroad and falling into the midst of wicked foreigners.
The hero here goes to an eastern European country to cover a treason trial. Nothing is what it seems and most of the people speak with forked tongues. After several hair raising scrapes Foster(our protagonist) emerges battered but wiser.
As usual the writing is taut and the book is fun. I'm tired of coming across the perennial Ambler cigarette smoker,though. Signs of previous times.
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It's easy for a person to begin to confuse one's subjective perceptions with reality. Do this long enough, and the person becomes convinced that anyone who disagrees with them is either perverse or stupid. Naturally, a successful person is more likely to fall into this trap. That syndrome is one that Eric Ambler deftly explores in Judgment on Deltchev in such an effective way that the book actually transcends the spy thriller genre into universality. This is one of my three favorite Eric Ambler novels. If you haven't read it yet, you're in for a major treat!
At the height of the Cold War, Foster, a London West End dramatist is invited to write a series of articles in what seems to be a political show trial of Yordan Deltchev behind the Iron Curtain. Deltchev had been a moderate leader in the revolution that brought the currrent government into power. The charges against him are assumed by Foster to respresent a final way to liquidate Deltchev's party, because Deltchev is accused of conspiring with the group that he had personally opposed. Like the protagonists in many of Eric Ambler's best novels, Foster is hopelessly naive and inexperienced for the challenges he is about to face. Only his good intentions can hope to save him . . . but too often his good intentions put him into dangerous situations. In the background are numbers of people who accommodate the current government in a variety of ways such as Georghi Pashik, the local press representative whom Foster relies on, and Sibley, the reporter.
As the trial develops, many unexpected events occur and Foster finds himself unpeeling the onion of a complex mystery concerning what the real agendas behind the trial are. In the process, he learns a lot about himself and human nature in general. He faces important ethical challenges, ones that will leave you wondering what you would have done in the same situation. As a result, you'll find yourself walking in Foster's steps and sharing his reality. It's a chilling trip.
One of several fascinating areas this book explores is the connection between whom we trust and whom we do not. Foster, like most, is attracted to those whose views he understands and approves of, those who are physically attractive, and those who he enjoys being with. Yet the information he receives that is helpful often comes from what would appear to be obviously untrustworthy or discredited sources. He gradually learns to cross-check his information, and digs to the bottom of many cross-currents of plots and subplots among the competing characters in the political tempest of a totalitarian regime. We can all learn a lot of good lessons from this story in overcoming out own shortsightedness about finding the truth.
Learn to appreciate the fragile and delicate beauty of truth . . . and how to seek it.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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