First edition.
Publisher, Date:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2018.
437 pages ; 25 cm
9781250172501 (hardcover)
System Availability:
Current Holds:
Control Number:
Call Number:
F Arc
Course Reserves:
# System items in:
Fiction/Biography Profile
Alexander Karpenko (Boy), Father is assassinated by the KGB; escapes with his mother; uses a coin to decide where to go
Life choices
Russia - Europe / Eastern Europe / Asia
Time Period
1968 -- 20th century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Publishers Weekly Review

In Archer's clever novel, a Sliding Doors-ish bildungsroman, fate hinges on the toss of a coin. After his father is assassinated by the KGB in 1968, young Alexander Karpenko says goodbye to his friend Vladimir and flees Russia with his mother. At the docks, they flip a coin to see if they will emigrate to London or New York. In one version of the story, Sasha and his mother journey to London, where he grows up to attend Cambridge, stands for Labour MP, marries well, and becomes involved in political hugger-mugger. In the other version of the story, Karpenko, here referred to as Alex, and his mother move to New York, where he grows up to be a hustler/entrepreneur, marries well, is named the chairman of a bank, and becomes involved in financial- and art-world chicanery. After 30 years, both Sasha and Alex return to Russia to find that their fates are now inextricably linked with the future of their post-Communist homeland. Archer cannibalizes his greatest hits (including Kane and Abel and First Among Equals) even as he emulates the '60s bestsellers of Harold Robbins and Jacqueline Susann to tell his twinned stories of immigrant striving, romance, and dirty dealing, with a surprise last-sentence kicker that points to the present political moment. The result is a fun, fast-paced novel. 300,000-copy announced first printing. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In the late 1960s, long before the fall of communism, a boy and his mother escape from Leningrad. They can stow away on either of two ships: one headed to England, the other to the U.S. They make their decision by flipping a coin. In this brilliantly conceived novel, Archer follows the lives of Alexander and Elena down both paths; in (mostly) alternating chapters, we see Alex build a financial empire in the U.S., while Sasha a common Russian diminutive for Alexander climbs the political ladder in England. Their lives follow generally parallel trajectories; a major event in Alex's life is roughly mirrored in Sasha's, and vice versa. Archer, no stranger to sprawling epics, covers three decades in the life of Alex/Sasha, working his way to a stunning conclusion that packs an emotional wallop. Typical for an Archer novel, the writing and characterizations are superb, and the book features several plot twists that send the story lines off in surprising new directions. There are a couple of moments, late in the novel, that should make readers' jaws drop moments so unexpected and surreal that they require a second reading, just to make sure we really just read what we think we did. A splendid novel, featuring one of Archer's most elegantly told stories.--David Pitt Copyright 2018 Booklist
<p>Leningrad, Russia, 1968. Alexander Karpenko is no ordinary child, and from an early age, it is clear he is destined to lead his countrymen. But when his father is assassinated by the KGB for defying the state, he and his mother will have to escape from Russia if they hope to survive. At the docks, they are confronted with an irreversible choice: should they board a container ship bound for America, or Great Britain? Alexander leaves that choice to the toss of a coin . . .</p> <p>In a single moment, a double twist decides Alexander's future. During an epic tale of fate and fortune, spanning two continents and thirty years, we follow his triumphs and defeats as he struggles as an immigrant to conquer his new world. As this unique story unfolds, Alexander comes to realize where his destiny lies, and accepts that he must face the past he left behind in Russia.</p> <p>With a final twist that will shock even his most ardent fans, this is #1 New York Times bestseller Jeffrey Archer's most ambitious and creative work since Kane and Abel .</p>
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