Eastern Approaches

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After adventures in Soviet Russia before the war, Fitztroy Maclean fought with the SAS in North Africa in 1942. This book presents his adventures in the Western Desert and later fighting alongside Tito's partisans in Yugoslavia.

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SDSBrooklyn

Nov 19, 2010

Adventurer extraordinaire

This is one of my favorite books, which I re-read every couple of years. MacLean was a British diplomat who in the 1930s voluntarily left his glamorous post in Paris for what was considered a dead-end at the Moscow embassy. He immediately set out to do what was considered impossible: personally travel to the far reaches of the hermetically sealed USSR, succeeding on the strength of wit, hubris, and above all an almost magical knack for manipulating the system in his favor (getting an NKVD escort on more than one occasion). He also had a ringside seat at the show trials of Bukharin, Yagoda, and others who had fallen out of favor with Stalin. And that's only the first third of the book. The remainder traces his subsequent WW II exploits in the Libyan desert and as England's attache to Tito's partisans hiding out in the Yugoslavian forests. A rip-roaring read.

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