• The Russian Five

  • A Story of Espionage, Defection, Bribery and Courage
  • By: Keith Gave
  • Narrated by: Bob Brill
  • Length: 10 hrs and 21 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (65 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When the Detroit Red Wings were rebooting their franchise after more than two decades of relative futility, they knew the best place to find world-class players who could turn things around more quickly were conscripted servants behind the Iron Curtain. All they had to do to get them was make history by drafting them and then figure out how to get them out of the Soviet Union.

That's when the Wings turned to Keith Gave, the newsman whose clandestine mission to Helsinki, Finland, was the first phase of a years-long series of secret meetings from posh hotel rooms to remote forests around Europe to orchestrate their unlawful departures.

One defection created an international incident and made global headlines. Another player faked cancer, thanks to the Wings' extravagant bribes to Russian doctors, including a big American car. Another player who wasn't quite ready to leave yet, felt like he was being kidnapped by an unscrupulous agent. Two others were outcast when they stood up publicly against the Soviet regime, winning their freedom to play in the NHL, only after years of struggle.

They are the Russian Five: Sergei Fedorov, Viacheslav Fetisov, Vladimir Konstantinov, Vyacheslav Kozlov, and Igor Larionov. Their stories sound like pulse-pounding spy novels. What unfolded after they were brought together in Detroit by the masterful coach Scotty Bowman is heartwarming and unforgettable.

This audiobook includes details never before revealed, and by the man who was there every step of the way - from the day Detroit drafted its first two Soviets in 1989 until they raised the Stanley Cup in 1997, then took it to Moscow for a historic victory lap around Red Square and the Kremlin.

The Russian Five did more to bridge Russian and American relations than decades of diplomacy and detente between the White House and the Kremlin. This is their story.

©2018 Keith Gave (P)2020 Keith Gave

What listeners say about The Russian Five

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Very interesting

At the time the Russian five played, admittedly the Avalanche were my team and I was only 12, but if knew the whole story behind the Russian five, I’d been a wings fan in a heartbeat.

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You MUST listen, hockey fans!

The essential story we couldn't hear before this.
Priceless, fantastic, and even cooler than we knew it to be!

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Fantastic listen and read

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, an in depth history of the Russian Five from the man who started the process. If you’re a fan of hockey this is a must listen/read. Gives a completely new perspective to exactly what it took to get these players out of the Soviet Union and into an NHL Sweater and just how much they changed the sport of hockey in North America.

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A different sports perspective

Very interesting backstory on the Russian five. The authors unique perspective and access really helps provide a better understanding of all the five went through.

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Great account of a historic time

This book is a thoroughly enjoyable look back at a historic time not just for Detroit hockey, but for world events. The author’s inside access and perspective into the events, and the unique personalities involved, makes for an insightful and often riveting account. The narrator‘s performance overall is quite good, but mispronunciations of several locations and individuals is somewhat distracting for a listener who knows better. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable book that I would highly recommend.

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  • Jordan
  • 08-17-21

Espionage indeed…

A fascinating story to begin with, then the stories within the story add so many layers to what was an intriguing time in sport and politics. Worth the read, even if you’re not a hockey fan.