Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Blumkin Project: A Biographical Novel by Christian Salmon, translated by William Rodarmor

(Thank you to Other Press for providing me with a copy of this book!)

about book:

This page-turning biographical novel follows the footsteps of a forgotten legend of the Russian Revolution, from Odessa to Moscow, Istanbul, and beyond.

Yakov Blumkin claimed to have had nine lives. Born to a poor Jewish family and orphaned as a child, he was a Socialist Revolutionary, a terrorist, the assassin of the German ambassador Wilhelm von Mirbach, a poet close to the avant-garde, a member of Cheka, a military strategist, a secret agent, and Leon Trotsky’s secretary. Executed in 1929 on Stalin’s orders at the age of only twenty-nine, he has continued to inspire a powerful curiosity, and wild rumors and falsehoods about his extraordinary life abound today.

As a young man in 1980s Paris, Christian Salmon identified strongly as a Bolshevik, drawn to the glorious October Revolution immortalized in literature and films such as Warren Beatty’s Redsand Sergei Eisenstein’s trilogy. Picking up the thread of his dream thirty years later, he sets out to reconstruct Blumkin’s shadowy past and ever-shifting identity with a trove of manuscripts, documents, rare photographs, and personal souvenirs.

my thoughts:

What a thrilling and intriguing story! The Blumkin Project by Christian Salmon reads like a historical spy novel and it is chock full of adventure, history, and politics. I found myself captivated right from the start. How could I not? Salmon has created a biographical novel about a curious figure named Yakov Blumkin. And I say curious, because the man had so many identities and lives - it's hard not to wonder about him and who he really was. He was a terrorist, an assassin, a poet, and a secret agent. Oh, and he was also Leon Trotsky's secretary. Say what? Yep, and I'm sure that isn't even every role he had during his short life. He was only twenty-nine when Stalin had him executed. Long after his death, rumors continued to swirl around his identity and his life - talk about a true man of mystery. 

Enter Salmon, a writer and researcher, fascinated by Blumkin and determined to reconstruct his sketchy  past by using documents, photographs, etc. to piece his story together. And, what a story it is! Richly layered and beautifully written, this book will captivate you right from the start. I know that I enjoyed learning about Blumkin and wondering what was really true about him - he was such an enigmatic character. Wow! What a great read!

I would happily recommend The Blumkin Project to anyone and everyone looking for their next read - you are going to really enjoy this book! Check it out!

Thank you to the Other Press for providing me with a copy of this book!

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