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Case Name: The Man From Barbarossa
Year: 1991
Author: John Gardner
Villain(s): Yevgeny Yuskovich
Organization: Self-employed
Bond Girl(s): Nina Bibikova; Stéphanie Adoré
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The Man From Barbarossa begins with the abduction of a suspected Nazi war criminal and then finds Bond joining the KGB to uncover a plot to destabilize the Russian government. Pitted against the Scales of Justice (Chushi Pravosudia in Russian), Bond must infiltrate the organization with partners from the Israeli Mossad as well as the French DSEG and the Russian KGB. Naturally, as Bond further investigates he finds that not everyone is who they appear to be and that the Scales of Justice's scheme is far more dramatic than simply destabilizing a government. In the end, they plan to reinstate communism, help the Iraqis in the Gulf War, embarrass Britain and France's secret services and detonate a nuclear weapon in Washington, DC.

With the plot out of the way, I can now discuss how much I disliked this book. If it were not a Bond book I never would have read past the first few chapters. However, I forced myself to finish it and left with a very dissatisfied opinion. Let me preface this by saying that the premise of the book was very interesting. The idea that Bond would have to go against his natural training and team up with the KGB to solve a case leads to some intriguing possibilities.

Unfortunately, Gardner never dives into the possibilities and sticks to a bland story with little action or much else between the two covers. Most Bond novels are quick, fun and easy reads. The Man From Barbarossa is the exception to this rule. It seemed like I would have to read each page a few times to get all the information Gardner had stuffed into it. Each chapter read like an official military debriefing: long winded with lots of extraneous information. By the time Bond figures out exactly what the Scales of Justice are up to and finds a way to stop them the reader is just hoping for the book to end already. My personal recommendation is to move this book to the end of your "to read" list for only after you've read all the other Bond novels.

Fan Reviews:

Nobody could possibly have foreseen that the abduction of an old man in New Jersey would be the prelude to a drama played out on the world’s stage.

Or that around the world a name now indelibly associated with the horror of genocide - Babi Yar - would once again be headline news.

And all because of an organization, hitherto unknown, the Scales of Justice.

For James Bond it meant a twist that no-one else could have invented in their wildest dreams before the era of glasnost and perestroika - for this new assignment James Bond would not simply work with his former archenemy, the KGB, he would be under their control!

Review submitted by Eric Nisbet

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