Author(s): Simon Sebag Montefiore
Imprisoned in the Gulags for a crime he did not commit, Benya Golden is doomed to die in the dreaded Kolyma camps until, with the onset of war, he joins a penal battalion made up of murderers and criminals to fight the Nazis. They have been promised their freedom - but in order to earn this they must first shed their own blood in battle. Benya joins the Russian cavalry, and on a hot summer day in July 1942, he and his band of ruffians are sent on a desperate mission which they are unlikely to survive. They charge a line of German tanks, breaking through into enemy territory. Lost behind enemy lines where Russian fights Russian and no one can be trusted, Benya struggles in a crucible of hell where renegades and traitors, Nazis, Cossacks and Italians soak the steppes with blood in the most terrifying moments in modern human warfare. Switching between Benya's war in the grasslands of Central Russia and Stalin's plans in the Kremlin, between Benya's intense affair with an Italian nurse and a romance between Stalin's daughter Svetlana and her much older lover in Moscow, this is an epic, sweeping historical novel in which Stalin and Hitler are both characters. Above all, it's a story of passion, survival and tragedy in the most unbearable and murderous conditions on the eve of the battle for Stalingrad.
"The black earth was already baking and the sun was just rising when they mounted their horses and rode across the grasslands towards the horizon on fire ...' Imprisoned in the Gulags for a crime he did not commit, Benya Golden joins a penal battalion made up of Cossacks and convicts to fight the Nazis. He joins the Russian cavalry, and on a hot summer day in July 1942, he and his band of brothers are sent on a desperate mission behind enemy lines. Switching between Benya's war in the grasslands of Southern Russia, and Stalin's plans in the Kremlin, between Benya's intense affair with an Italian nurse and a romance between Stalin's daughter and a journalist also on the Eastern Front, this is a sweeping story of passion, bravery and human survival where personal betrayal is a constant companion, and death just a heartbeat away." from the publisher's description "Written with brio & deep knowledge of its fascinating subject matter... a deeply satisfying pageturner." Book of Month, The Times
Simon Montefiore's ancestors escaped from the Tsarist Empire at the turn of the century, and sparked his lifelong interest in Russia. As a correspondent in the early 1990s, he covered the wars and turbulence of the fall of the Soviet Union - from Georgia and Chechnya to Moscow and St Petersburg. As a historian, he has spent the last ten years researching the Russian archives. The personal stories he found there and his interviews with families continue to inspire his fiction and non-fiction. Simon Montefiore lives in London with his wife, the novelist Santa Montefiore, and their two children. For further details about the author and his books, please visit his website: www.simonsebagmontefiore.com