Smiting the Bear is the journal of Archibald Fox’s extraordinary adventures in the Russian wasteland of 1920-21. Known in his day as a spy, thief, forger, womaniser and saxophonist, Fox was an unlikely witness to this dark, forgotten time. Determined to steal a Fabergé Egg and seduce the former mistress of Vladimir Lenin, he remained in Russia when the other Revolutionary tourists fled. He is forced to witness elaborate torture, celebrated by an entire village. He is compelled to partake in the new cuisine; cannibalism. He is petrified in the ghost cities by hunger, madness, apparatchiks and the feral tribes of orphans who roam the streets killing innocents for kicks. He is press ganged into a Red Army unit, arrested by secret police, signed up to a peasant militia and uncharacteristically devastated by love. With his desires thwarted, Fox stumbles into the last great uprising in Bolshevized Russia. He knows it’s a tragic farce. Alas, there is no way out…
Don’t have a clue. Haven’t read it. - The Back-of-Beyond Bugle
Brilliant! (according to the press officer who keeps flirting with me) - The Wee Issue
Dazzling, or to put it another way, brilliant. Actually, dazzling is fine. - The Made-up Times
Brilliant... couldn’t read on the train because of the embarrassment of guffawing so much... a book that will stay with you... stayed up to finish it... new voice in literature... a cross between one really good writer and another really good writer who is very different from the first really good writer... horribly contrived metaphor... pretentiously obscure reference... haughty use of lame superlatives... brilliant... bla bla bla.... - Granta
Yes, yes, it’s brilliant (and mine’s a Guinness) - The Author’s Best Friend
All very well if you like Lefty ravings and care a whit about Johnny Foreigner’s silly ideas. - The Daily Mail
Predictably dreary right-wing propaganda. Why can’t everyone just be as clever as this newspaper? - The Guardian
Can’t make head nor tail of it. It’s got sub-clauses, figures of speech and perfect spelling. I’m completely lost. - The Interweb Thingie
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the second and sadly the last book from Stewart Hennessey about, all round rake, Archibald Fox. You do not have to read the first one but you will be missing out on a literary feast of fun if you do not. This sees our intrepid Fox in revolutionary Russia in the final throes of 1920 -21.
Fox is a similar character to Flashman and has all the same strengths of character as Mr MacDonald Fraser's hero. That is he likes a drink, loves the ladies, can run away from no end of work, is always on the cadge and when push comes to shove he is normally happy to high tail it away from trouble. We see him here having thrown in his lot with the Whites whose changing fortunes have ebbed and flowed but without foreign aid they are hopelessly outnumbered. He is still after the ladies and his elusive Faberge egg which he hopes to purloin as soon as the coast is clear.
Stewart Hennessey takes us across the country recounting the sad but true events that took place from...
Having followed Archie Fox's previous adventures before and during the Russian Revolution, this time round we find him in the chaos that is Russia post Revolution in 1920. Our hero fails to break the habits of a lifetime by backing the wrong horse yet again - this time he has elected to desert the Bolshevik cause and fight with the Whites which, with the benefit of hindsight was perhaps a little ill judged! The country is divided with various factions fighting throughout the country and rape, torture and even cannibalism not uncommon.
However, he remains the unscrupulous, self serving adventurer who we grew to love in the first volume of his memoirs and is quick to pick up on his previous obsessions ie chasing after Inessa, Lenin's girlfriend who sadly seems to view him in rather a motherly way as a wayward boy, and attempting to recover the Faberge egg which he has previously secreted at the Catherine Palace. Both appear hopeless quests. Sara, his lover and mother of his...
Set in 1920-1921 in Revolutionary Russia, Smiting the Bear is a mesmerizing novel from start to finish. It is told entirely from the point of view of Archie Fox, a wayward Englishman who acts debonair and decent whilst actually being a thieving, lusty liar of the tallest order. Charm and wit are his only redeeming features, but they work wonders and make you smile a lot.
Before the novel opens, Fox has sided with the tsarist Whites who have already lost the Civil War to the Bolsheviks. He is languishing in the ranks of the now doomed White army which is preparing to make a last stand on the peninsula of Crimea. It is a strange time and place in history, and Fox is oddly content to find that the years of warring are over and he must soon flee Russia.
However, the prospect of fabulous wealth and sexual desire draw him back into Bolshevized Russia. Despite this being a comedy, there is a deeply moving scene when he finally catches up with what may have been the love...
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