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A Train to Potevka – tekijä: Mike…
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A Train to Potevka (vuoden 2005 painos)

– tekijä: Mike Ramsdell

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut
1597130,780 (2.88)-
A Train To Potevka will take you on an incredible, winter's journey across Great Mother Russia along the 6,000-mile Trans-Siberian Railway. This fascinating story about an American intelligence agent from a small town in Utah is a tale of failed espionage, escape, and second chances.
Jäsen:eljepson
Teoksen nimi:A Train to Potevka
Kirjailijat:Mike Ramsdell
Info:Zhivago Press (2005), Paperback, 305 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):
Avainsanoja:LDS@APL

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A Train to Potevka (tekijä: Mike Ramsdell)

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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 7) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
Okay, not great. ( )
  mcsp | Jan 25, 2021 |
This book starts out better than it ends. It gets way too religious for my taste when you're about half-way through. But the beginning part about his get-away from the Russian mob and his quest to find food in a tiny village where he is stuck for 4 days was pretty good reading. ( )
  rlsova | Oct 29, 2019 |
This book fascinated me--it's a very interesting look into the experiences of an American involved in a top secret mission in Siberia at the end of the Cold War. The book is mostly true, but the author says he had to change some things and classify the book as fiction for reasons of security. I almost gave the book 3 stars because it could have been edited better and a few parts are a bit sentimental, but the story more than makes up for the shortcomings. ( )
  tkcs | Feb 23, 2019 |
It is more of a history lesson of America versus the Soviet Union in the early 1990's. The story wanders all over the place and flashes back at will.

A fast read but as spy novel... it does not cut the mustard ( )
  Lynxear | Sep 1, 2017 |
Substance: The story itself is quite interesting, although I remain amazed at the blatant incompetence of the real spy agencies compared to their fictional counterparts. Ramsdale concentrates on the personal meaning of his experiences, and the epiphany of belief following what can only be called a miracle.

Style: The dramatic impact of the story is blunted by an amateurish approach, and moderately mediocre language skills, which actually put the author in the upper percentiles of typical American students. An editor would have worked over this "first draft". The novel is a rough stone that could use polishing, or better, filming. It would make a great movie (and has been optioned). I enjoyed the quotations at the beginning of each chapter, many of which were new to me.
NOTES:
p. 47: As Russians would say -- they (train attendants) were both "stinking drunk" with their own importance, a strange phenomenon common throughout communist Russia. No matter how little power or authority an individual had, that person could -- and usually would -- use his or her postition to make others' lives more miserable. I never understood why they did this. Perhaps such behavior had something to do with their meaningless job and having to endure the never-ending despair of a life without choices living under the Communist system.
[May be more pronounced or endemic in Russia, but the same people exist in America -- maybe power-drunk people just have more opportunities, and fewer restraints, in Russia, where they can' t be constrained by public opprobium.]
p. 58-59: Since the end of the First World War and the Bolshevik Revolution, the low food production has been a result of the corruption, mismanagement, and ineptness of the Communist system. The scarcity of reliable farm equipment was a major issue, but the most significant factor was the defiant attitude of many of hte kolkhoz (collective farm) workers who would have their crops unilaterally taken from them by the government year after year, leaving them with little or nothing for all their toil and suffering.
[Two points: (1) slaves in America were stigmitized as being lazy, but were actually very rational in conserving their energy because of the absence of rewards for labor; (2) this is what happens when some people are prevented from "earning too much money" and when you "spread the wealth around" from the productive to the leeches.]
p. 65: (Russians continue to fear invasion, especially from Germany;) they lost 27 million people in what is referred to as The Great Patriotic War...many of the older Russians still advocate: "We will never forget!" [i.e., the betrayal by Hitler].
p. 73: (in re Gorbachev's reforms) he genuinely cared for the Soviet people and their welfare [that his reforms failed is due to the lack of infrastructure, democratic habits, and feral nature of the society, rather like a starving person dying from getting too much food too soon; the system just couldn't handle freedom because no one knew what to do with it].
p. 85 ff: (in re his stint at Oberammergau school for military intelligence; as SDO he had the only three incidents, in three years, of recalling the commandant to HQ - note of 300 personnel, 42 were officers and about 150 support; makes the training really expensive! -- looked on as a jinx, but maybe just a good choice to have on duty, as none of the incidents were the result of any of his actions.)
p. 90ff: (on the espionage of his friend Yuri, the naturalized-citizen and former Czech refugee, a sad story; what strikes me is that a school full of intelligence professionals DID NOT HAVE a designated protocol for dealing with suspicious events in the most secure building on campus: the SDO (author in this case) had no procedures for patrol back-up, took a naive "who's there?" approach to noises in the file room; no lock-down of the building when suspicions roused, etc.)
p. 112: Still to this day, I'm bewildered how Yuri, after having enjoyed all the opportunities and blessings of living in America for so many years, could make such a deliberate choice -- no only to commit treason against the United States -- but to even take his own life. However, not knowing or understanding the control and influence his father had over his son in order to corrupt him and get him to do what he did, I have compassion for Your, and I mourn his tragic death. I still miss my friend
p.122: (on being cheated by a man who promised to buy him some bread, because he was afraid to leave the train seat) Why hadn't I given him just enough rubles to purchase the bread, and then the rest of the money when he brought the loaves back to me?
[Because despite his knowledge of Russia, he still operates like a Mormon - trusting people; also, he was very ill from the fight and lack of food]
p. 135: [like Ramsdell, we are perplexed that the safe house had no food, contrary to policy, and only find out later the reason; my question - in a country where everyone suspects everything and officials are like fleas on a dog, why does the Agency think no one will be suspicious of an empty house with occasional, temporary visits from complete strangers?]
p. 142: [Ramsdell gives personal insights on the insane decision of President Carter to let the Russian build the US Embassy, with predictable results and immense costs, both for corruption during construction and abandonment later.]
p. 146-1477: (on the Russian Mafia, descendants of the "Red Theives" operating under the czar; rounded up as a threat to the Bolsheviks as well) It was after Stalin's death in 1953 that eight million of these hardened criminals were released back into Soviet society. Within a short time, these criminals, working with corrupt politicians, created the underbelly of a flourishing black-market which, in actuality, helped sustain Russia during the years of the Cold War.
[The Communists were much more ruthless than the aristocracy -- Perchek didn't have a clue -- and killed millions of good, religious peasants and productive intellectuals while sparing the criminals; go figure.]
p. 156: (on forced government mandated celebrations, which people have to attend to receive their food; the closed market and missing townspeople, along with the usual rationing, highlight the dilemma of having plenty of money and being unable to buy food)
p. 169: (the only one still in the village is a cripple on a pension, complaining that his neighbors would rat on him if he gave food to Ramsdell, but he does it anyway)
[not the only instance where basic humanity still lives under the heel of the Soviet government and society]
p. 199: ( Ramsdell finally gets around to talking about the call to go back to Russia for this mission, and its effect on his family - he is divorced and has one son)
[although this mission must have been in planning for months, the Agency only gave him 24 hours to decide - security reasons or just SOP insensitivity?]
p. 203: (about the spy business - confidentiality, seven-year-rule on disclosure, routine polygraph tests)
p. 203ff: (only failures become known, e.g. FBI senior offficer Robert Hanssen, the counterintelligence agent who was a mole for the KGB)
p. 206: From time to time, my brothers (all older, all but one who had served in the military) would ask what I was doing overseas tat was so important I couldn't talk about if. You one would think that they should have some idea; i.e., I had been commissioned in the Military Intelligence Corps, graduated from the Russian Institute in Washington, D.C., was a graduate from counterintelligence school, and hade served numerous missions to Europe, Scandinavia, and Russia...Rather than being proud that his younger brother was serving our country, Ted would vehemently harangue me because of my unwillingness to discuss any of my assignments.
p. 209-210: (on his upbringing in an inactive Mormon family, though traditionally valued, he experiences doubt and misgivings, not in the Lord, but in himself) I have a built-in excuse for my doubts and why I lack the inner faith and confidence that the Lord will help me or that He even cares.
[Thus the importance of the Primary program for children.]
p. 210: (went on a mission because his coach at Utah State thought he would come back hefty enough to play football; he didn't)
p. 215: (he served in southern Germany and northern Switzerland; only gained two pounds despite the pastry)
[the walking counteracts the calories]
p. 221: (on the conflicts between his career responsibilities and his religious principles; he did tell them he could not assassinate people in cold blood; counseled with some of the large number of former missionaries in the intelligence community)
p.222: one off the top places for our government agencies to recruit is on the campuses of the colleges and universities in the Rockies (as opposed to the earlier emphasis on Ivy League schools) ... large population of young adults, men and women who have had exposure to living abroad as missionaries for an extended period of time...speak at least one of the fifty major languages of the world...healthy life style...tend to be patriotic and lyal to the ideals upon which our nation was founded.
[they can be found in other states, but gather to Utah and Idaho for school]
p.223: (4 of 5 agents at a pre-operation briefing in Germany were missionaries for various churches, not just LDS; cited their pride in protecting our national security interests, preserving our freedoms and democratic way of life; belief that the Constitution was divinely inspired; scriptural stories of religious heroes engaged in clandestine work when they country or their people's survival depended on it)
p. 245: (rejected temptation to break into empty houses and steal food, although he could pay handsomely for it, both for moral and practical reasons, such as if he got caught) The devil had offered me his solution in my struggle to survive.
p. 248: (inspired to realize that the mysterious box, which he had treated as booby-trapped, might not be a bad thing; it turned out to be from his sister in US vial the embassy in Finland, thrown at his door some days past; absolutely impossible that anyone knew where he was, because of his cover identity and covert escape to Potevka)
p. 253: It is not the Lord's way or His plan to take away our hardships and difficulties. It is these challenges that give us the opportunity to grow in faith, character, and understanding. And if we won't give up, He will be at our side to help us see them through.
[sometimes, He puts us through a really tough training, to test the limits of our strength and fidelity to principles, like in a military stress course; given our mission to become like Him, how can we expect him to let us wimp out on the challenges?]
p. 255-256: (his central epiphany) One of the greatest gifts that God gives to each of us is the love we share with our family, friends, and fellowmen. It is this divine gift of love thatenriches us, gives meaning and purpose to life, and makes it all worth living. Everything else in life is secondary. Everything. And when our time here on earth is over, our lives will not be measured by the riches we accumulate, the honors we receive, the degrees we acquire, or the professional success we achieve, but by our capacity to love and be loved.
[see Scott Card's editorial for 2010-05-20 in Mormon Times, on teaching the young men what matters in life]
p. 257: I'd never before had such a profound emotional experience, one that I did not want to end...I truly believe that for one brief moment the Lord touched my soul.
p. 265 (eventually took train back to Moscow, had four fractured ribs, serious head wound, blood loss, etc.
p.266: (discovered that the Potevka house ha been disignated non-operational because compromised by KGB three months before he went there; the individuals at HQ who stranded him alone after the failed mission while sending the two senior agents back in safety were relieved of duties; this hearkens back to beginning of the story, where he is viewed as "not our kind" by the Ivy League agents also on the team)
p. 273: (meets Mormon missionaries in Gorky Park, including the Elder his son had asked him to look out for and take to dinner; gets rebuffed at restaurants, ends up at MacDonald's, with the help of primary-age "entrepreneur" street boys; feeds his KGB tail as well)
p. 278: (consensus of all Soviet specialists was that the nation would never allow its people to live like those in the free world; now the Gospel was taught there).
p. 289: (Sasha and friends charge $1 for a place in the line at McD, 2000 people long; give most to the Mafia; and still do better than employed working men and women)
p. 325: The most significant factor in bringing down the USSR was the Soviet people themselves...During the seventy years of the USSR, any meaningful accomplishments or achievements were a result of the populace, not the Communist Party. It was the Soviet people that preserved the moral values of truth and goodnes, not the mistaken ideological dogma of Marxism.
p. 327: I'd like to think that, in spite of all the chaos during the collapse of the USSR, along with the hostility and mistrust the Soviet government had towards America, somewhere within the vast organization of the KGB, someone's heart was softened. Maybe this individual knew exactly who I was, where I was --stranded in Potevka -- and understood the concept of Thanksgiving in America. And, perhaps, he also knew what it would mean for me to receive such a needed gift on the very day of one of our most cherished national holidaays. If such speculation were true, how thrilled I would be to someday meet this former Russian adversary and thank him personally for what he did. In my view, this improbable act of kindness, by a so-called enemy, is simply another testament to the basic goodness of man and the intervention and love of a concerned Heavenly Father....I've heard it said that the Lord works his miracles through angels living around us in the form of our family and friends -- sometimes even complete strangers
p. 328: Still to this day, I don not know for certain how the package got to me or who delivered it. That will likely always remain a mystery. Most import is the fact that Potevka, the storm, Karen's package, and a loving Heavenly Father changed my life forever. ( )
  librisissimo | May 16, 2010 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 7) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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A Train To Potevka will take you on an incredible, winter's journey across Great Mother Russia along the 6,000-mile Trans-Siberian Railway. This fascinating story about an American intelligence agent from a small town in Utah is a tale of failed espionage, escape, and second chances.

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