KAILUA-KONA – Alexander Rosenstein, MD, is a highly-regarded orthopedic surgeon who lives in Keauhou.
But few of his patients and friends appreciate that Rosenstein is an accomplished scholar from what was Soviet-occupied Odessa, Ukraine four decades ago. He proves his knowledge of the geography, culture, military practice and spy craft of the 1980-1991 period in his new book out this week.
“Sword of the Kremlin” is an historical novel like no other. It is written about Afghanistan, Ukraine and Soviet Russia during the decade up to and including the fall of Communist socialism.
A book launch party is planned for 5-7 p.m. Tuesday at Gertrude’s Jazz Bar, 75-5699 Alii Dr. Free with open light food and bar.
The noteworthy uniqueness of Rosenstein’s story is that it is a first-person perspective because he and, by extension, his principal characters “lived it.” Virtually every previous popular spy novel has been written by American or British “spooks” or “wannabes” who imagine the characters, places and events from the outside.
The book opens with a desperate late-night chase in the treacherous landscape of the Carpathian Mountains in western Ukraine.
The protagonist, Oleg, is a KGB agent being hunted down by Red Army irregulars after his loyalties have been found out at a remote dacha, well concealed and controlled by a self-serving revolutionary general. The scene shifts to the northeastern Afghanistan kush several years earlier, where Lt. Colonel Lomov and his special forces are attempting a rescue of their own men held hostage by the Taliban. The art of Rosenstein’s narrative is the interweaving of these apparently disparate events into a masterful confluence of forces that explode into an unsuspected climax – at the Kremlin.
The relevance of Sword of the Kremlin to all that’s going on in the news today is inescapable. The Ukraine, Afghanistan and Russia are front-page top-of-the-hour lead stories in all the world’s media.
As Rosenstein anticipates on his nationwide book tour, “most people are going to ask me about what’s going on today in the complicated relationships between the U.S. and the former Soviet bloc and its then-Russian occupied Afghanistan.”
“Everything,” the doctor answered.
Locally, Alexander Rosenstein’s Sword of the Kremlin is available at Kona Stories, 78-6831 Alii Dr. No. 142, in the Keauhou Shopping Center and online at BUY Sword of the Kremlin ($24.95 + shipping). For more locations, or to order by phone in Hawaii, call 339-0880.
Vincent Mallardi is a professor in International Economics who lives in Captain Cook.