Eastern Approaches

Maclean, Fitzroy Eastern Approaches (Jonathan Cape, London)

Maclean, Fitzroy Eastern Approaches (Jonathan Cape, London)

A classic account of post-WWI Soviet Union, including a visit to Tbilisi in the 1930s, as well as Maclean’s exploits in Yugoslavia during WWII

This is Maclean’s most famous work and although there is only a short section relating to Georgia, the book as a whole is a tremendous read. It starts with his posting to Moscow in 1937 and ends with victory against the Germans in Yugoslavia in 1944. The passage relating to Georgia is (in my copy of the book) on pages 45 to 51, but despite its brevity, it made a very strong impression on me and contains a memorable passage which I will partially reproduce here:

“I asked … the best way of finding out about the [British Military] cemetery. ‘Ask the NKVD … they are the only efficient people here.’ This seemed sound advice … I presented myself at the NKVD Headquarters … He did not, he said, know where it was, but he could give me the address of an Englishwoman who might know. I could hardly believe my ears. An Englishwoman living in Tiflis was something quite unheard of …” (I leave the reader to continue with the book itself.)

Review by Anthony Stobart (December 2016)

Note: this review refers to a 1950 edition of the book which contains no ISBN. 


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