He loved the pleasures of life in the French capital, but eventually longed for adventure. Against the advice of his friends and to the delight of his London bosses , he requested a posting to Moscow , which he received right away; once there, he began to learn Russian. Travelling within the Soviet Union was frowned upon by the authorities, but Maclean managed to take several trips anyway. The Caucasus[ edit ] In the spring of , he took a trial trip, heading south from Moscow to Baku on the Caspian Sea. The Intourist official tried to dissuade him, but he found a ship to take him to Lenkoran Lankaran , Azerbaijan , where he witnessed the deportation of several hundred Turko-Tartar peasants to Central Asia. Stuck there for a few days, he bargained for horses with which to explore the countryside, and was arrested by the NKVD cavalry near to the Persian border.
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Shelves: non-fiction , pre-isbn , places , exploration , history , review-liked , books-withtoratings , favourite , ww2 , author-male Only on finishing Eastern Approaches, did I think to search the web for the authors obituary. My jaw dropped open. What a life for one so young; and what a telling reminder to us all: never dismiss the lives of the young as being too young, the middle too middle, or the old too old.
What honour to be of an ilk to leave society bereft, but in a considerably better condition than when first found.
To be blessed with a first-class mind, a balanced self-confidence, sound judgement, utter and complete unselfishness, the unhesitating trust of men … all are qualities we would dearly wish to be bestowed by a fairy godmother on our own children.
Stalin of espionage, sabotage, murder, and high treason. The course of the trial as described by Maclean is not read, but seen. Seen by the head-stilled eyes of the reader sitting in the theatre that is the court; hardly daring to breathe as the plot of the game unfolds, twists, as hope and hopelessness, hearts less noble and hearts more evil follow the steps of the political game which all are so very, very familiar with, a searing form pre-ordained, inescapable.
Here is the blackest of prosecutors, the most awful, haunting expression of risk, of high, nay, the highest political stakes risked and lost; a loss bearing the most unthinkable of prices. What is it in our human condition that causes us to act thus? One snake, one apple? I count myself extremely fortunate to have a copy of this book Third Impression.
How wonderful to have technology that allows us to hear the to hear the voice of a forebear. I agree with him. If we lose the ability to remember and cherish our past, then we cast aside our ability to assess the present and to plan the future. And what a life! So after Eton he is accepted into the Foreign Office FO , and is sent to Paris for three years; after which he requested a posting to Moscow. The FO thought him quite mad, but said that would be no problem because no one else wanted to go there!
Later on, having left the FO in order to join the military. From what Maclean describes he very clearly did! How many present day members of the SAS will read this book and marvel at the very notion of being asked to join the newly-formed crack regiment; rather than having to first undergo what I am told are in our present day the most strenuous application procedure, intelligence and endurance tests set by any military force?
Yet how glibly the term trips off the tongue; that already we should mention it in the same breath, as the present awful crisis surrounding Syria. This book can, at one level, be simply read as one of the best adventure stories ever written. Yet there is something very much more to it than just that. There Maclean met Tito a very shadowy figure at that time a hard-headed Communist, a decision maker with a sense of humour.
This book informed me on that war, and the human condition, more deeply than almost any number of television news reporters did at the time, or other commentators since. Roy Plomley asks him why he chooses that piece. Later on in the programme, Maclean justifies his confidence that he would survive on a desert island. He observes how in Yugoslavia he lived off the land.
I think he would have, too! Plomley, unusually, offers in addition that same title in English. Maclean refuses. He wants only the Russian text; for the purpose of keeping his mental faculties fully sharpened!