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A sailor, artist, lawyer and writer, fluent in many languages, Dmitri Bystrolyotov was one of a team of outstanding Soviet spies operating in Western countries between the world wars. He was a dashing man whose modus operandi was the seduction of women among them a French embassy employee, the wife of a British official and a disfigured Gestapo officer. He stole military secrets from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, and enabled Stalin to look into the diplomatic pouches of many European countries. Idealistically committed to the Motherland, he showed extraordinary courage and physical prowess twice crossing the Sahara Desert and the jungles of the Congo. But in 1938, at the height of Stalin's purges, Dmitri was arrested and tortured. Sentenced to twenty years of hard labour in the Gulag, he risked more severe punishment by documenting the regime's crimes against humanity. Yet he survived the repression and came to realise the true nature of the ideology he had once served unquestioningly.
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Emilie Frèche, lauréate du Prix Orange du Livre 2013 pour "Deux étrangers"