“A book to astonish readers: never before has Stalin’s Gulag been the setting for a love affair. This powerful narrative by a distinguished historian will take its place not just in history but in literature.”—Robert K. Massie, author of Catherine the Great
Author of Natasha's Dance and The Crimean War
In 1946, after five years as a prisoner—first as a Soviet Union POW in Nazi concentration camps, then as a deportee (falsely accused of treason) in Russia's Arctic Gulag—twenty-nine-year-old Lev Mishchenko unexpectedly received a letter from Sveta, the sweetheart he had hardly dared hope was still alive. Amazingly, over the next eight years the lovers managed to exchange more than 1,500 messages, and even to smuggle Sveta herself into the camp for secret meetings. Their recently discovered correspondence is the only known real-time record of life in Stalin’s Gulag, unmediated and uncensored.
Orlando Figes draws on Lev and Sveta’s letters as well as KGB archives and recent interviews to brilliantly reconstruct the broader world in which their story unfolded. With the powerful narrative drive of a novel, Just Send Me Word reveals a passion and endurance that triumphed over the tragic forces of history.