Excerpt of Archangel by Robert Harris
(Page 3 of 6)
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"Take no notice," instructed Olga Komarova, standing up beside the driver. She
tapped the side of her head. "These are crazy people. Red fascists."
"What's he saying?" demanded Duberstein, who was considered a world authority on
Soviet communism even though he had never quite gotten around to learning Russian.
"He's talking about how the Hoover Institution tried to buy the Party archive for
five million bucks," said Adelman. "He says we're trying to steal their
Duberstein sniggered. "Who'd want to steal their goddamn history?" He tapped on
the window with his signet ring. "Say, isn't that a TV crew?"
The sight of a camera caused a predictable, wistful stir among the academics.
"I believe so . . ."
"How very flattering . . ."
"What's the name," said Adelman, "of the fellow who runs Aurora? Is it
still the same one?" He twisted around in his seat and called up the aisle.
"Fluke--you should know. What's his name? Old KGB--"
"Mamantov," said Kelso. The driver braked hard, and he had to swallow to stop
himself from being sick. "Vladimir Mamantov."
"Crazy people," repeated Olga, bracing herself as they came to a stop. "I
apologize on behalf of Rosarkhiv. They are not representative. Follow me, please. Ignore
They filed off the bus, and a television cameraman filmed them as they trudged across the
asphalt forecourt, past a couple of drooping, silvery fir trees, pursued by jeers.
Fluke Kelso moved delicately at the rear of the column, nursing his hangover, holding his
head at a careful angle, as if he were balancing a pitcher of water. A pimply youth in
wire spectacles thrust a copy of Aurora at him, and Kelso got a quick glimpse of the front
page--a cartoon caricature of Zionist conspirators and a weird cabalistic symbol that was
something between a swastika and a red cross--before he rammed it back in the young man's
chest. The demonstrators jeered.
A thermometer on the wall outside the entrance read minus one. The old nameplate had been
taken down and a new one had been screwed in its place, but it didn't quite fit, so you
could tell that the building had been renamed. It now proclaimed itself the Russian center
for the preservation and study of documents relating to modern history.
Once again, Kelso lingered behind after the others had gone in, squinting at the
hate-filled faces across the street. There were a lot of old men of a similar age, pinched
and raw-cheeked in the cold, but Rapava wasn't among them. He turned away and moved
inside, into the shadowy lobby, where he gave his coat and bag to the cloakroom attendant
before passing beneath the familiar statue of Lenin toward the lecture hall.
Another day began.
There were ninety-one delegates at the symposium, and almost all of them seemed to be
crowded into the small anteroom where coffee was being served. He collected his cup and
lit another cigarette.
"Who's up first?" said a voice behind him. It was Adelman.
"Askenov, I think. On the microfilm project."
Adelman groaned. He was a Bostonian, in his seventies, at that twilight stage in his
career when most of his life seemed to be spent in airplanes or foreign hotels: symposia,
conferences, honorary degrees--Duberstein maintained that Adelman had given up pursuing
history in favor of collecting air miles. But Kelso didn't begrudge him his honors. He was
good. And brave. It had taken courage to write his kind of books, thirty years ago, on the
Famine and the Terror, when every other useful idiot in academia was screeching for
"Listen, Frank," he said. "I'm sorry about dinner."
Excerpted from Archangel by Robert Harris. Excerpted by permission of
Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this
excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing.