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The Amber Room Reviews


This gripping book has all the twists and turns of a good detective story which delivers a fascinating and unexpected conclusion. The fact that it is not detective fiction but detective fact makes it all the more compelling.

Richard Crampton, Professor of East European History, University of Oxford.

All the ingredients of an Indiana Jones adventure – spies, crooks, Nazis and a fabulous lost treasure.

Sunday Times, London

Catherine Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy have applied their skills as investigative journalists to piece together what happened to the Amber Room. Theirs is a detective story… [with] fascinating new material

Sunday Telegraph

Makes the legendary James Bond look positively pedestrian.


Summer! When even the dutiful dream of reading for pleasure and tomes meant for airless rooms surrender to lighter fare — entertainment shot through with sea air, prose you can consume in the horizontal position. If high temperatures call for high scandal, publishers are ready with Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark’s The Amber Room: Uncovering the Fate of the World’s Greatest Lost Art Treasure

The Washington Post.

A Moscow-based cultural organisation sponsored by President Vladimir Putin has backed the key findings of a controversial three-year British research project into the fate of the world’s most valuable missing piece of art – the Amber Room.
Investigative journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark recently published their conclusions (The Amber Room: the untold story of the greatest hoax of the twentieth century Atlantic Books in June 2004), revealing how hitherto unseen files in Russia and Germany showed how the Soviet Red Army had destroyed the Amber Room in April 1945 by setting fire to Konigsberg Castle in which it was being stored by the Nazis.
Levy and Scott-Clark’s research was presented to the State Duma, President Vladimir Putin as well as to the German Foreign Office and Culture Minister. Last week, leading cultural commentators in Moscow responded. Leonid Arinstein, advisor to the President of the Russian Culture Foundation, a veteran who took part in combat operations in Konigsberg in 1945, admitted that the Amber Room had been destroyed.
Arinstein told the Novosti news agency: ‘I was in the Konigsberg Castle in the afternoon of April 8 – that is, before the fire broke out-and I think I was among the last to see the Amber Room, or rather what had remained of it [by then]… The amber panels, packed in boxes, were held in the castle’s basement, something I learned from a German custodian who was still staying at the museum. I had no doubts then that the Room was destroyed in the blaze…


This book is trash. It’s done by those haters in the West who once again want to cast a shadow over the Soviet Union and its army… propagandist claptrap.

Retired General Valentin Varennikov, deputy head of the Soviet General Staff from 1979-84

This book is very dangerous and aimed at revising history… It aims at discrediting the role of Russia and the Red Army in the victory in the Second World War.

Mikhail Shvydkoi, former Russian Minister of Culture.

MOSCOW – A Russian veteran said Wednesday that he saw fragments of the legendary Amber Room in the closing days of World War II, suggesting one of the world’s greatest missing art treasures burned at a German castle after it was seized by the victorious Red Army.Russian officials denied the allegations, saying the fate of the jewel-encrusted masterpiece carved in amber remains a mystery after Nazi troops looted it from a Russian imperial palace.
The assertions by Leonid Arinshtein, a literature expert with the nongovernmental Russian Culture Foundation, echo a recently published book that claims the fabled chamber vanished in a fire after the German city of Konigsburg fell to the Soviets.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Arinshtein, 79, recalled seeing fragments of amber decoration in the Konigsburg Castle but said he realized it was part of the lost treasure only years later.
“I probably was one of the last people who saw the Amber Room,’ said Arinshtein, who was a Red Army lieutenant in charge of a rifle platoon when he knocked on the castle door in April 1945. “But I was a 19-year old boy, and I didn’t understand what I saw.


In an interview with Russian Information Agency Novosti, Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky commented on the assertions in certain sections of the foreign media that the celebrated Amber Room was destroyed by the Red Army and not by the Nazis by declaring that “the destruction of the Amber Room during the Second World War is the responsibility of those who started the war.”
“There are many different theories about the Amber Room, and this is one of them. I do not know what really happened in the turmoil of Konigsberg and I don’t think that can be settled yet,” said Mikhail Piotrovsky.

RIA Novosti North-West Interview

Borders Announces 2004 Original Voices Awards Nominees:
“The Original Voices program helps us share our passion for books with our customers and highlight for them some of the most innovative and ambitious works in the world of literature throughout the year,” said Mike Spinozzi, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Borders Group. “The finalists for the 2004 Original Voices Awards represent what our booksellers and home office employees found most compelling this year. ” Nominees for the 2004 Original Voices Awards are: Amber Room by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark


This title might seem at first to be small-scale popular history, telling the tale of one of the more ornate artifacts of the 18th century. Yet the Amber Room is even more noteworthy for its historical importance. Originally designed for and begun by the Prussian royal family, it was still unfinished when they gave it to Peter the Great of Russia; it was completed and assembled in the lifetime of his successor, Catherine the Great. In 1941, the Germans overran the palace into which the room was fitted and it was moved to Konigsberg, only to disappear as the Third Reich collapsed and the German city fell to the Red Army. The book details the hunt for the Amber Room, which has involved persons from Russia and both Germanys as well as one well-connected Russian emigre, a host of magazines, various spies, and occasional outbursts of popular enthusiasm. This alone makes for a gripping tale, but as the book progresses it becomes apparent that there is another level to this treasure hunt. The modern-day searchers, the authors and their allies, must deal with the agendas of previous hunters and of the guardians of the archives. Clear maps and average-quality photos are included. This engrossing book combines history, detection, and adventure.

Ted Westervelt, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, School Library Journal Reviews

In “The Amber Room,” British journalists Catherine Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy delve into the mystery of those vanishings, traversing half of Europe and five decades of history to arrive at a startling and controversial conclusion. Marc Spiegler, Chicago Tribune
In 1717, when amber was 12 times more valuable than gold, Russia’s Peter the Great was given enough amber to panel an entire room in a palace in St. Petersburg. In 1941, in advance of the German invasion, the Amber Room was dismantled for protection but never seen again, leading to decades of conspiracy theories. Levy and Scott-Clark, British journalists, solve the mystery; their investigation reads like a Cold War thriller.

USA today

The best investigative journalism can be a long, mazy hunt after truth, sometimes winding down blind alleys, sometimes stalling in confusion – and often ending without any neat sensation of a conclusion. Catherine Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy are two of our most formidable investigative journalists.

Peter Preston, The Observer.

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