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Red Sky at Noon

‘The black earth was already baking and the sun was just rising when they mounted their horses and rode across the grasslands towards the horizon on fire …’

Imprisoned in the Gulags for a crime he did not commit, Benya Golden joins a penal battalion made up of Cossacks and convicts to fight the Nazis.

He enrols in the Russian cavalry, and on a hot summer day in July 1942, he and his band of brothers are sent on a desperate mission behind enemy lines

Switching between Benya’s war in the grasslands of Southern Russia, and Stalin’s plans in the Kremlin, between Benya’s intense affair with an Italian nurse and a romance between Stalin’s daughter and a journalist also on the Eastern Front, this is a sweeping story of passion, bravery and human survival where personal betrayal is a constant companion, and death just a heartbeat away.


‘RED SKY AT NOON is an epic adventure story set against the backdrop of the most awful war in human history. The master historian shape-shifting into the brilliant novelist. Ridiculously good.’ Dan Snow

‘A wonderful novel, highly atmospheric, a truly absorbing read. RED SKY AT NOON is like Cormac McCarthy –  with Nazis and Cossacks.’ Philip Kerr, author of BERLIN NOIR and the Bernie Gunther novels 

‘For the sheer pleasure of being swept away in an epic tale of love and war by a master storyteller, RED SKY AT NOON by Simon Sebag Montefiore had me enthralled from beginning to end. This is the final part of his Moscow trilogy – a series of compelling historical novels in the great tradition of Scott, Thackeray and Tolstoy.’  Book of the Year, SUNDAY HERALD (Scotland)

‘Montefiore’s portrayal of the chaos of hooves, swords and gunfire is visceral. The deftness in crafting a deeply engaging story is only enriched by his skills as historian. Offering historical accuracy, a fine empathy for his characters and a story that illuminates the operatic tragedy of Stalin’s Russia, RED SKY AT NOON is brilliant on multiple levels.’ BOOKLIST USA

‘A gripping adventure, compelling history and a work that adds humanity to stories we thought we knew.  A novel that imagines the interior lives of historical figures and lesser common figures upon whose backs History is so often written. Violent and portentous, deception and betrayal are the central themes in a novel which turns into a love story. Vivid interplay between war story and love story, between Kremlin and frontline, grant the novel’s momentum – RED SKY AT NOON has readers turning the pages. Montefiore imbeds fictional characters into a real events and imbues both real and imagined characters with full created interior lives…A worthy conclusion to the 3 partially-linked novels …equal parts political thriller and love story…. An excellent read.’ Elliot Ackerman, WALL STREET JOURNAL

‘Montefiore’s third novel in his Moscow Trilogy (after SASHENKA and ONE NIGHT IN WINTER) is a stunning World War II story set on the bloody Russian front outside Stalingrad in July 1942. Montefiore’s immersive portrayal of the Eastern Front makes this a gripping, convincing tale.’ Starred review, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (USA)

‘Montefiore has legions of fans for his histories (THE ROMANOVS), but his ‘Moscow Trilogy’ (ONE NIGHT IN WINTER; SASHENKA) opens the floodgates to the imaginative re-creation of archival facts. Benya’s story animates a ten-day, desperate struggle in Stalin’s huge gamble against the Nazi war machine. World War II fiction aficionados will want to read this.’ LIBRARY JOURNAL (USA)

‘Amidst the killing and the chaos, a group of prisoners are offered a chance of redemption on a secret mission behind enemy lines on horseback. Montefiore has a keen sense of place and an eye of unexpected details. Switching between the frontline on the Russian steppes and Stalin in the Kremlin, this is an exciting fast-paced adventure and a lament for love in dark and brutal times.’ MAIL ON SUNDAY

‘The gripping final instalment of the Moscow Trilogy tells of a man wrongly imprisoned in the Gulags and his fight for redemption. Meticulously researched … In this searing tale of love and war, most moving is the redemptive relationship between a soldier and a nurse that blooms amid the brutality. An homage to the author’s favourite Russian writers and the Western masterpieces of Larry McMurtry, Cormac McCarthy and Elmore Leonard, such influences pervade this atmospheric tale told in the author’s distinct own voice.’ OBSERVER

‘Mythic and murderous violence in Russia…there are power-drunk Nazis and Soviet traitors, including a particularly memorable villain …Written with brio and deep knowledge of its fascinating subject matter… a deeply satisfying pageturner’ Book of the Month, THE TIMES

‘A gripping novel. Montefiore is brilliant at depicting the brooding menace … as the penal battalions are given increasingly risky missions, it is Benya’s journey on horseback that we follow behind enemy lines in the grasslands of southern Russia … an epic tale. The language is arresting. It’s all beautifully done: a Western on the Eastern front.’ DAILY TELEGRAPH

‘It’s LONESOME DOVE meets Stalingrad. A band of outlaws riding & fighting for their lives on sweeping plains – but these bandits are not battling tribes in the Wild West, they are on the grasslands of south Russia at war with Nazi Germany and its ally, the Italians. Our hero is not a Texas Ranger but a Jewish writer named Benya Golden. Montefiore has brought his understand of Russian history to life here with great gusto traversing Gulags, battlefields and Kremlin but Golden is a lover not a fighter…’ Leila McKinnon, WOMEN’S WEEKLY (Australia)

‘I devoured RED SKY AT NOON. A heartstopping, heartbreaking, technicolour epic. A grand homage to the Russian masters Babel & Grossman, echoes of Hemingway & Dostoevsky, and a propulsive delight that is entirely Montefiore’s own. Gripping storytelling allied with intimate, unsqueamish knowledge of Russian history – a special combination.’ AD Miller, author of SNOWDROPS

‘Montefiore’s skill with imagery is such that he immerses the reader in an utterly ethereal landscape, only to snap them into horror as men emerge from rippling sunflowers with ‘swords streaked with blood and grass’, and that soft horizon is suddenly filled ‘squadrons of tanks like steel cockroaches.’ Montefiore can effortlessly meld beauty with battle.  Vivid and impeccably researched.’ TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

‘Despatches from the days of blood and thunder … There are atrocities on all sides and a smidgen of love as Benya falls for a brave Italian nurse. A subplot follows the illstarred affair between Stalin’s daughter and a Jewish writer. But Benya’s struggle to keep his humanity is the memorable spine of the book.’ Best of Summer reading, THE TIMES

‘Exhilarated and terrified, Golden is plunged into a world where violent death could arrive at any minute and any pleasures that present themselves (an affair with an Italian nurse) must be seized immediately. Montefiore paints his verbal pictures of war in bold primary colours, sheer energy of storytelling and grand sweep of narrative.’ SUNDAY TIMES

‘In this third volume of The Moscow Trilogy, the fate of combatants and civilians is often harsh. With his feel for vivid and immediate drama and impressive research, the author evokes the extreme turbulence and violence impacting on individuals. Writing with passion, Montefiore makes the point that, up against the huge forces of war, the struggle for personal resolution can be tragic – but never wasted.’ DAILY MAIL

Red Sky At Noon