Michael Scammell

Michael Scammell is the author of Koestler: The Literary and Political Odyssey of a Twentieth Century Skeptic and Solzhenitsyn, A Biography. He has translated books by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Nabokov into English and writes regularly about Russian and East European literature. 

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Praise for Michael Scammell

  • Koestler himself seems so alive he might leap off the page.

    Anne Applebaum, The New York Review of Books

  • A terrific biography... every page is enthralling.

    Michael Dirda, Washington Post

  • Superb biography.

    Paul Berman, The New Republic

  • A prodigy of research in many languages.

    Louis Menand, The New Yorker

  • Tremendous, absorbing.

    Neal Ascherson, London Review of Books

  • Magisterial.

    John Carey, The Sunday Times (UK)


The Literary and Political Odyssey of a Twentieth-Century Skeptic

The Indispensable Intellectual


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Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BetterWorldBooks.com, IndieBound, Random House


10 November 2015

Koestler's Near-miss in Hollywood

When I wrote and published my biography of Arthur Koestler, I was completely unaware that Koestler’s work had so narrowly failed to make it to the screen in Hollywood. I knew that soon after Koestler’s one and only visit to Hollywood in 1948, a small studio called Pioneer Pictures had briefly considered making a movie of Darkness at Noon, but gave up when Koestler refused to let them to...

6 October 2015

Enough of this Mayakovskery?

Though I am more interested in prose than poetry, I seem to spend a lot of time writing about modern Russian and East European poetry (Pasternak, Milosz and Brodsky are relatively recent...

24 June 2015

"100 Biographies to Love"

Last Sunday (June 21) the Culture supplement of the London Sunday Times published a special feature with the self-explanatory title, "100 biographies to love," that included the two by myself,...

27 June 2014

The CIA and Pasternak

Long term suspicions that the CIA had a hand in publicizing Doctor Zhivago have just been confirmed in a new book, The Zhivago Affair (see my article on Pasternak for the NYRB of July 10 and my...

26 June 2014

My First Medal

Well, well, I've just been awarded my first medal. On June 5, I was awarded the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland by the President of the Republic of Poland,...

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