Skip to main content

Russia's Most Famous Woman Soldier who later becomes an American Spy


A Book Review: The Beautiful Assassin by Michael White 

For the Soviets, Tat’yana is a symbol of a near perfect dream that they want to lure the Americans with – a stunning woman solider who fought and killed over 300 German soliders in the most difficult and terrifying conditions.

Russia’s Clandestine Plans to Spy on the White House
The Russian political hawks see her as an instrument to be used to lure the Americans to join the war against Hitler. That Tat’yana craves for no such fame or name other than to continue fighting as a solider for her country is of no consequence to the Soviets. They present her as their cultural ambassador to Eleanor Roosevelt but in reality they attempt to use her as their spy to findout everything about President Roosevelt’s future plans. Thrust into a political battlefield where the enemies play hidden games and make dangerous moves, Tat’yana is cornered by all sides, torn by her friendship and respect for Eleanor and the desire to serve and be true to her country – the Soviet Union.

Russia’s most famous woman soldier forced to dress up like a Doll to woo the Americans

From start to finish, the book is gripping because it has a fantastic protagonist, namely Tat’yana. You can feel her pain as your own. A woman solider has to live and take decisions in a doubly careful manner but few understand the compulsions she lives with, particularly the Americans who see her as a kind of cultural entertainment.

For instance, Tat’yana is appalled when she is advised dress up, expose her body and told to pretend that she is unmarried when meeting the American Press. She says, “ I am a soldier. Why do I need to dress up or pretend to be single?” The Russians tell her that the American Press need to feel she has a sexy element to her personality. She is told to wear perfume because the Americans cannot stand body odor. She learns how different the Americans are when it comes to judging people by their appeariances. If she didn’t dress up the way they expected her to, they would not write about her. American socialites ask her questions like "What did you do when you had your 'womanly time' on the battlefield?" and Tat’yana is struck by the frivolous nature of an American woman's mind during a time of war. 

The dilemma Tat’yana faces is one that most women in any profession are likely to face – why should dressing up to impress a target audience matter when you are damn good at what you do?

Life in Russia during Stalin’s rule
What interested me most was Tat’yana’s recollections of the past that take us through life in Russia at a time when Stalin’s rule was supreme. It is clear from her version that the Russians themselves despised what Stalin had reduced their motherland to.

Interesting conversations like these take us back to that period in Russia when Stalin’s law was supreme.

“I could recall at night, my parents sitting at the kitchen table, bickering about the government. My mother calling Stalin that ublyudok – mongrel dog – though she would always, as did most citizens even in the privacy of their homes, instinctively lower her voice when saying something the least critical about the government…”

Russian Spy in the White House: Torn between loyalties 
Destiny and political conspiracy catapult Tat’yana to meet Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the US President Roosevelt. The two women become friends instantly though Tatyana has been sent by the Russians to spy on everything that is happening within the White House. Torn between the loyalty she feels towards her motherland and the trust shown towards her by the First Lady, we can see Tatyana questioning her motives for following secretive directions that seem to have nothing to do with the welfare of the Russians.

And out of the blue, just like that, Tat’yana disappears while in the US. The Russians are livid and label their most respected woman solider as a traitor. The truth is never known. What happened to her? Why did she disappear? Did the Americans kill her on finding out that she was a Russian spy? Did she make a tough choice between being a good, loyal solider or a good, trust worthy friend?

The other characters in the book are not as interesting as she is except for the First Lady of the US who definitely makes a mark and intrigues our interest with her freedom and an instinctive sense of what is right and wrong. But I was not pleased with the way it ended – without fizz. 

It left one feeling as though at the end of a fantastically presented six course dish, there was simply no effort to whip up and serve a delectable dessert. The way this novel ended was with a bland bump and that should have been avoided because throughout the story, the plot and the pace had been gripping.

Comments

Shilpa Garg said…
Sounds interesting and seems somewhat familiar to the Angelina Jolie's movie SALT.
Have bookmarked this for future reading! :)
Oldfox004 said…
yeah! I too recalled SALT!!
yeah...i was eagerly reading till the end of ur post only to be left with no dessert:(
but i'll surely read this if i get a chance...Thanks for sharing this!

Most Popular Posts

The Ugly Truth about Caste in Kerala

Many years ago, when I wrote this post on Kerala's caste system, I had not considered the possibility that my thoughts and my personal journey would receive such online abuse or that I would be seen as some one who was trying to insult other castes. The intention of writing is always to share an experience and not to insult others. My experience of motherhood and marriage would be different from yours. When I write about my experience, it is illogical to shout that as being insulting to your experience because our journeys are entirely different narratives. 

My question is - why do you ABUSE any caste or person here? You are free to disagree but why do you ABUSE? How does that reflect on YOU?

In my article, I shared what trials I went through, without any intention to insult any community.The intention of my article is to question - why are we even exchanging insults over an issue called caste? 

Should we not be aspiring to be above caste considerations instead of abusing each other …

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Meaning, Benefit of Chanting and Who can Chant the Mantra

There are very few mantras that are as powerful as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Benefit of chanting this mantra
This mantra is believed to have the power to remove all sufferings, diseases and bestow the one who chants it with good health and long life. It is also believed that constant contemplation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can help spiritual aspirants to overcome the cycle of birth and death.
What got me fascinated about this mantra is something personal.  I learned this mantra from my father but it is my maternal grandmother who chanted it all the time and repeatedly told me of its tremendous power to protect. However, I did not chant this mantra regularly. 
But at the age of two, my son was taught some mantras by my mother who explained what it means to him and he became very enthusiastic about chanting the mantras. Following this, my mother taught him the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra and he took to …

Amazing Signs You are an Earth Angel

Doreen Virtue’s book, “Assertiveness for Earth Angels” brings to life the reality of Earth Angels in very easy way. It’s an exciting must-read! [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]

Earth Angels have amazing super powers in: MusicArtsWriting HealingManifesting miracles for others such as controlling weather conditions &  becoming invisible at will
DO READ: ASK MORE, FEAR LESS.

How to Identify Earth Angels by their Traits
To know whether you are an Earth Angel, take a look at their known traits that are explained in this book:


You have a graceful and compassionate aura that inspires people.Your presence “lifts” everyone to happier spirits – it is proof of who you really are.You don’t judge others but you overdo the “acceptance” bit. So, you tolerate even those who show no respect for boundaries.You cannot stand anyone suffering or being in pain. You are constantly “rescuing people” because it is in your nature to want to see everyone happy in this world. But y…

Power of Love

                  Love without a price tag, conditions attached or the fine print of debt 

At the age of five or six years, I told my Dad that I would never ever opt for an arranged marriage, especially the transactional ''bride seeing'' ceremony, where the bride is paraded around like a fancy showpiece before a bunch of curious strangers, who are more interested in how much gold she is wearing than her IQ.
Dad, being my ever patient, serene hero, just smiled that calm, soothing smile that some of you are already familiar with and he said, ''Sure, that's fine."
I was expecting a full flung family drama, a storm, maybe even being thrown out for the audacity of breaking the much-treasured family tradition. How dare a girl even say such a thing to her parents, right?
Nothing happened. Dad was so cool. Then it struck me - maybe I am adopted. That's why it doesn't matter so much to him. 
I did manage to summon the courage and ask Dad several times, "…

A Dad's advice to the daughter he loves: Be yourself, remember you are special and treasure your strengths

Just a week ago, Dad gave me a very emotional pep talk at the Bangalore airport. The good thing is that whenever I feel emotionally vulnerable or stressed out, I replay Dad's conversation. It lifts me up and instantly brings a huge smile to my face. That's my Dad - yeah! 




As a teenager, Bangalore used to be one of my favorite cities though the garden city was not as ''global'' and ''vibrant'' as it is today. It was a pretty cool place to go shopping for stylish accessories, not that I could splurge and go crazy with shopping but I could do so on a limited budget. So, I used to look forward to our summer trips to Bangalore, from where we would head out to Whitefield. 

The busy, broad streets, the scent of street food and the vibrant atmosphere had always perked me up every time I reached Bangalore. Be it heading to Puttaparthi or Whitefield, my parents and I have traveled to Bangalore so many times that it became a kind of ''routine'…

Five ways to take charge of your anger

“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems -- not people; to focus your energies on answers -- not excuses.” ― William Arthur Ward
Every day, the newspaper headlines are full of scary stories of people killing each other over trivial things - mostly these incidents happen when individuals lose their temper and turn violent. In traffic jams across Noida in the evenings, people don't hesitate to walk out and hit each other. No one stops anyone. Everyone likes a big, bad fight. It's great to vent. After all, what's the big deal about getting angry? After all, if you cannot express what pisses you off, how can you call yourself human? 

[Source: Pixabay] Here's what I think: Anger is an egoistic projection of our own minds.  It also stems from an expectation that has not been fulfilled.

People who get angry easily do not respond to situations rationally.  It destroys them first before it goes out and delivers blows to others around. That is why spiritual masters ask peopl…

Top 10 Skincare tips for Summer

Come summer, and we women worry a lot about how the sun lashes out on our skin. True, skincare tips for the summer are plenty but what about the hushed secrets - yes, those tried and tested family secrets that are passed on from mother to daughters? [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]




Here are some that are totally easy to do. Best of all, these are effective and bring on a feel-good factor in the peak of summer.

1. Replace water with rosewater. It keeps your skin luminous and fragrant throughout the day. It's a good toner too.

2. Cleanse your skin by combining these ingredients - honey, milk, rosewater/rosepetals and turmeric. Add a dash of olive oil and yes, it feels wonderful.

3. Almond oil body baths are a must-have! You will smell delicious all day. This summer, skip all those body lotions & moisturizers! You will love the way almond oil pampers your skin all day!

4. Use a mixture of almond oil and olive oil for your feet. Your feet will sparkle an…