Stalin's Meteorologist

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One fateful day in 1934, a husband arranged to meet his wife under the colonnade of the Bolshoi theatre. As she waited for him in vain, he was only a few hundred metres away, in a cell in the notorious Lubyanka prison. Less than a year before, Alexey Wangenheim - a celebrated meteorologist - had been hailed by Stalin as a national hero. But following his sudden arrest, he was exiled to a gulag, forced to spend his remaining years on an island in the frozen north, along with thousands of other political prisoners. By chance, Olivier Rolin discovered an album of the letters and beautiful drawings of the natural world which Alexey sent home to his wife, Varvara, and his four-year-old daughter, Eleonora. Intrigued by these images, Rolin became determined to uncover Alexey's story and his eventual horrifying fate. Stalin's Meteorologist is the fascinating and deeply moving account of an innocent man and his family caught up in the brutality of Soviet paranoia, and a timely reminder of the human consequences of political extremism. "`Devastating... Often thrilling and always freighted with dread... Admirably artful'" -- Simon Ings * Daily Telegraph * "Fascinating... a subtle mixture of biography, memoir, political analysis and detective story... A powerful and important book" -- Victor Sebestyen * Mail on Sunday * "Rolin's tone is lyrical and impressionistic rather than scholarly. He intersperses his own thoughts on Russian history, geography and culture... The overall effect is moving... Rolin's reconstruction of the meteorologist's last hours is masterful... The contribution of Rolin, with his English translator Ros Schwartz, is to bring this story to the non-Russian-speaking world and situate it as part of a broader meditation on the history of the Soviet tragedy. In that he has succeeded, producing an eloquent addition to a violent episode in the history of science in the twentieth century" -- Asif Siddiqi * Nature *
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Olivier Rolin
Harvill Secker
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