Former Dean of the CIA's Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis Calls New Novel Based on Lenin's Latvian Riflemen 'Enthralling'

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Debut novel by Brown graduate William Burton McCormick receives highest praise

"Lenin's Harem" by William Burton McCormick

The attention to historical detail and depth of introspection are worthy of Pasternak or Solzhenitsyn. Enthralling, reads as true as my grandfather’s letters.

--- Daniel Wagner, former Dean of the CIA's Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis

Knox Robinson Publishing author and Brown graduate William Burton McCormick spent three years living in Latvia and Russia researching and writing his debut novel, "Lenin’s Harem". McCormick, who holds an MA in Novel Writing from Manchester University, one of the UK's most prestigious writing programs made famous by its staff of such writers as Martin Amis and Geoff Ryman, was determined to get the details of his first novel right. According to a former Central Intelligence Agency official, it was time very well spent.

Daniel Wagner, former Dean of the CIA’s Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis, praised the novel’s mix of historical accuracy and literary skill.

“This book has an artistic quality that is lacking in most novels these days,” said Wagner. “I enjoyed the story immensely. At the individual level, it is character development revealed through the thoughts of the protagonist. At the group level, it’s class struggle, ethnic identity, ideology, all the things that made Eastern and Central Europe so fascinating. And, at the national or greater level, it’s the revolutions of 1905, the world wars and more.”

Wagner, whose own ancestors survived harrowing experiences similar to those found in the book, expressed a personal connection to the story, and summed up "Lenin’s Harem" while comparing its style to those of past Russian Nobel Prize winners.

“Born to an aristocratic life of wealth and privilege, but driven from the family home by resentful Latvian peasants, a young German struggles to survive and protect his love from the brutalities of a domineering brother, class struggle, war and communist rule. The attention to historical detail and depth of introspection are worthy of Pasternak or Solzhenitsyn. Enthralling, reads as true as my grandfather’s letters.”

McCormick and his fast-growing British publisher Knox Robinson are thankful for the praise. “To receive such kind words from Mr. Wagner, someone who by profession studied the region and its history, and whose own family experienced many of these events, is an absolute thrill,” McCormick said. “And, of course, to mention my writing in the same breath with the authors of 'Dr. Zhivago' and 'The Gulag Archipelago', even in the slightest of ways, is the greatest honor a foreign author writing about those times can have.”

Dana Celeste Robinson, the thirty-four-year-old American-born, British-educated founder and managing director of London-based Knox Robinson Publishing is also honored by the praise. “We’re a very young publishing house, so to receive this caliber of endorsement at this stage is truly remarkable. We are very grateful," she said. "We have been extremely fortunate in our selection of authors. That Knox Robinson was able to acquire McCormick’s debut novel is deemed an incredible privilege. Readers who appreciate the rich narrative of James Meek's 'The People's Act of Love' and the poetic prose of Erich Maria Remarque's 'All Quiet on the Western Front' will truly love McCormick's 'Lenin's Harem'.”

The novel has received uniformly strong reviews from book critics, historians and fellow authors. 'The Providence Sunday Journal' called the novel “broad, ambitious, and plenty good,” while British author Martyn Bedford, whose novel "Flip" was shortlisted for the 2011 Costa Book Award, found the novel “gripping and moving.” Latvian historian, Kaspars Klavins said, “The novel considers the eternal problems of humanity as cast through the dark prism of actual historical events.”

The official launch of the novel will take place at the Embassy of Latvia to the United States in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, January 23, 2013. A podcast interview with William Burton McCormick is available from iTunes and directly from the Knox Robinson Publishing website.

"Lenin’s Harem" was released in hardback and all major electronic formats on December 6, 2012 and is distributed throughout North America by Bookmasters, Inc and in Australia and New Zealand by John Reed Books. The novel will be released in the United Kingdom and Europe on May 8, 2013, distribution to be handled by Marston Book Services (UK).

Book Launch at the Embassy of Latvia to the United States - Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 5:30 P.M. Embassy of Latvia, 2306 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington DC 20008. This event is by invitation only. wbmcauthor(at)knoxrobinsonpublishing(dot)com

Author Talk and Book Signing at Charles E. Beatley Library (Alexandria) - Charles E. Beatley Library, Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 7:00 P.M. Charles E. Beatley Library, 5005 Duke Street Alexandria, VA 22304.

Author Talk and Book Signing at Arlington Central Library - Arlington Central Library, Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 7:00 P.M. Arlington Central Library, 1015 N Quincy St, Arlington, VA 22201

Book Signing at Boulder City Library - Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 5:00 to 8:30 P.M. 701 Adams Boulevard, Boulder City, NV 89005 Tel: 702-293-1281

Palm Beach Peril: An International Thriller Writers Debut Authors Panel - William joins a panel of debut thriller authors hosted by best-selling novelist Karin Slaughter. Oline Cogdil of the 'Sun Sentinel' moderates. A book signing will follow. Thursday, April 4,2013 2:00 P.M. Palm Beach County Library (Delray Beach), 14350 Hagen Ranch Road, Delray Beach, FL 33446. Registration begins at 9:00 am on Thursday, March 21, 2013.

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