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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Misleading Title, 5 Jan. 2013
This review is from: The Mystery of Olga Chekhova (Paperback)
Yet another book with a title jazzed up to give the impression of being something it is not. The question of whether Olga Chekhova was a Russian spy takes up a miniscule part of the book. My understanding is that a spy is someone who is working for a foreign power attempting to gain intelligence on the designated enemy country. Olga Chekhova was not an agent of the Soviet Union actively working against Nazi Germany. Indeed she was a highly successful film star and except in the most general terms was not going to be in a position to gain desired secrets. She was however clearly an opportunist who was going to do whatever was necessary to survive and prosper and if that meant keeping in touch with and in sympathy with the Soviets then so be it. Beevor simply does not produce the hard evidence to determine accurately what she did, by inference she was involved with Soviet security agencies but to what extent and whether it mattered remains open to question. Case unproven in my view.

The sad thing about all this is that it obscures the heart of the book which is about the experiences of the Chekhov family between Anton Chekhov's death in 1904 and essentially the end of the Second World War. Life was pretty good until the Russian Revolution when circumstances split the family and Olga, her daughter, mother and sister ended up in Germany with the others remaining in Soviet Russia. Their story is a fascinating tale of the experiences of a family living through revolution, famine, hyper-inflation, political turmoil and a world war in two of the grossest tyrannies the world has seen. By some miracle they almost all survived but not without undergoing many trials and tribulations. I found that a far more interesting story than the feeble issue of Olga Chekhova's links to Soviet Intelligence. Confusing though it can be working out and keeping in the mind who is who in the family this is worth reading on a purely human interest level. A shame it was not packaged and sold on that basis.
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Location: Wiltshire, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 13,336