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This is the extraordinary true story of two young Russians, Lev and Svetlana. Kept apart for fourteen years by the Second World War and the Gulag, they stayed true to each other and exchanged thousands of secret letters as Lev battled to survive in Stalin's camps.

About the Author

Orlando Figes is a professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, and former University Lecturer in History at Cambridge. Born in London in 1959, he graduated with a double-starred first in History from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, in 1982. His first book, Peasant Russia, Civil War, was described by one reviewer as 'one of the most important books ever published on the Russian Revolution'. His website can be found at www.orlandofiges.co.uk Orlando Figes is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. He was born in 1959 and studied History at Cambridge. Before moving to Birkbeck he was a University Lecturer in History and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He is the author of Peasant Russia, Civil War, A People's Tragedy (which in 1997 was the winner of the Wolfson History Prize, the WH Smith Literary Award, the Longman / History Today Book of the Year Award, the NCR Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize), Natasha's Dance (which was shortlisted for the 2003 Samuel Johnson prize) and The Whisperers (2007).


A poignant record ... as fascinating and inspiring as it is heartbreaking ... It is impossible to read without shedding tears -- Simon Sebag Montefiore * Financial Times *
This powerful narrative by a distinguished historian will take its place not just in history but in literature -- Robert Massie
Electrifying, passionate, devoted, despairing, exhilarating ... a tale of hope, resilience, grit and love * The Times *
Remarkable ... moving... possesses extraordinary value ... a notable contribution to Gulag literature -- Max Hastings * Sunday Times *
Immensely touching ... [a] heartening gem of a book -- Anna Reid * Literary Review *
The remarkable true story of a love affair between two Soviet citizens ... as much a literary challenge as a historical one: the book can be read as a non-fiction novel * Telegraph *
Figes has achieved something extraordinary ... the gulag story lacks individuals for us to sympathise with: a Primo Levi, an Anne Frank or even an Oskar Schindler. Just Send Me Word may well be the book to change that ... the kind of love that most of us can only dream of -- Oliver Bullough * Independent *
Remarkable ... Figes, selecting and then interpreting this mass of letters, makes them tell two kinds of story. The first is a uniquely detailed narrative of the gulag, of the callous, slatternly universe which consumed millions of lives ... The second is about two people determined not to lose each other -- Neal Ascherson * Guardian *
A quiet, moving and memorable account of life in a totalitarian state ... The book often reads like a novel ... captivating * Evening Standard *
Orlando Figes has wrought something beautiful from dark times -- Ian Thomson * Observer *
A heart-rending record of extraordinary human endurance * Kirkus Reviews *
[A] remarkable tale of love and devotion during the worst years of the USSR ... [Figes's] fine narrative pacing enhances this moving, memorable story * Publishers Weekly *

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