Andropov's Cuckoo

A Tale of Love, Intrigue and the KGB
Narrated by: James Hill
Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A dying man recounts the story of the most amazing person he has ever met: a brilliant Soviet linguist, whom he knew as Youriko. It is a tale of love, daring-do, spies, and danger set in Japan, Germany, Turkey, the USA, Canada, and the UK, but mostly in the Soviet Union of the 70s.

Two girls, born thousands of miles apart in Kazakhstan and Japan just after World War II, meet and are like peas in a pod. They also get on like sisters and keep n touch for the rest of their lives.
However, one wants to help her battle-scarred country and the other wants to leave hers for the West. They dream up a daring, dangerous plan to achieve both goals, which Andropov, the chief of the Soviet KGB, is told about. He dubs it "Operation Youriko", and it is set in motion, but does it have even the remotest chance of success?

Andropov’s Cuckoo is based on a true story related to the author by one of the protagonists.

©2016 Owen Jones (P)2018 Owen Jones
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A unique story from a now-gone world

I requested and received a copy of this audiobook from the author because I was intrigued by the subject matter. The Soviet Union is gone, Andropov is forgotten in the west, and our current political leaders seem to see ex-KGB functionaries as BFFs. I found this story captivating, however, and my interest was continually piqued by the ever-changing events in the life of the primary protagonist (whose name changes frequently throughout the novel!). Supposedly based on true events related to the author many years ago, the details nevertheless seem a bit incredible - particularly the linguistic genius and the physical similarities between two young women growing up in different countries in the 60s and 70s. But if you're willing to buy into the improbable, the story is fascinating and more than a bit heart-wrenching. Having studied the Soviet Union, I nevertheless felt there were probably ideas and details in this story that even the most serious scholars might not have known. I'm glad I listened to Andropov's Cuckoo, although I didn't feel the narrator did the story justice. His female intonation was more annoying that spot-on, and I don't know why a female narrator wasn't chosen. He also mangled many of the Russian phrases, particularly at the end of the story - so either have a native speaker say them or leave them out of the narration. But overall I'm happy I listened and intend to look up more of the author's work - and there seems to be a lot to choose from!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Incredible listen!

When it started I found it a little slow, but truly this was an amazing listen! More incredible is the knowledge at the end that the story is true. Definitely not what I expected, and outside of my normal choice of literature, but I am so glad to have heard it. The reader is fantastic, from his articulation to his voices, and everything inbetween. I hope more books like this one come out soon. I will definitely watch for both Owen Jones and James Hill. If Yoriko is still alive, I hope she hears this story too.

1 person found this helpful

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A Ring of Truth

Andropov's Cuckoo tells the story of one of the old USSR's lesser spies, who is known in the book, generally, as Youriko. It is told through the mouth of her dying husband, as he pays tribute to his already deceased wife, who died in obscurity. The author says that the story is based on truth, and I believe him. It's gripping and with the ring of truth about it.

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Works hard to be great

A story of discontent turns hard into a story of survival that turns into a daring escape motivated by love . . . but with too many details for me. At times this story is gripping, but too often the tension is slowed by plot bogged down in too much information. At least that is how it went down for me; you may very well appreciate the detail that lends authenticity to this true story of foreign espionage.