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The Boy Nihilist or, Young America in Russia   By:

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Allan Arnold's novel, The Boy Nihilist or, Young America in Russia, presents a mesmerizing journey of self-discovery and ideological conflict. Set against the backdrop of 19th-century Russia, this gripping tale follows the life of Frederick Selwyn, a young American who ventures into the heartland of political unrest and philosophical turmoil.

Arnold skilfully weaves a narrative that captivates readers from the very beginning. Through vivid descriptions and meticulous attention to historical detail, he transports us to a time of societal transformation and ideological clashes. The author's prose flows effortlessly, enabling readers to immerse themselves deeply within this fascinating world.

At the core of the story is Frederick Selwyn, a young man searching for meaning and purpose in a world filled with chaos. Selwyn's journey takes him through a series of eye-opening encounters with prominent thinkers and revolutionaries, which challenge and shape his beliefs. As readers follow Selwyn's personal growth, they too are encouraged to question their own convictions and explore the depths of their own philosophical understandings.

One of the novel's strengths lies in its nuanced portrayal of the dichotomies between conservatism and radicalism, tradition and innovation, and hope and despair. Arnold expertly navigates these complexities and presents a balanced exploration of these contrasting perspectives. As a result, readers are given a well-rounded understanding of the broader political and intellectual climate of the time.

Moreover, Arnold's characters are richly developed and emotionally compelling. From the enigmatic Russian nihilist, Natalia, to the wise and introspective Count Ivan Petrovich, each character brings a unique perspective to the narrative. Their interactions are filled with intelligence, passion, and philosophical debates that leave a lasting impression.

However, as much as the novel excels in its character development and exploration of ideologies, there are moments where the pacing falters. Some sections feel slightly drawn out, and the narrative occasionally becomes overly didactic, detracting from the fluidity of the story. Nevertheless, these minor setbacks do not diminish the overall impact of the book.

In conclusion, The Boy Nihilist or, Young America in Russia is a thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating novel that transports readers to a time of political upheaval and existential questioning. Allan Arnold's meticulous research, combined with his engaging storytelling, creates a truly immersive experience. Despite minor pacing issues, this book is a captivating read for those interested in history, philosophy, and the intricacies of the human experience.

First Page:

THE BOY NIHILIST, or, Young America in Russia




The steamship Baltic was on the point of sailing from America to Europe.

The usual scenes were visible on the wharf the rushing on board of belated freight and baggage the crush of passengers and their friends on deck, or down in the cabins, where partings were being drunk in wine; the crowd of steerage passengers forward, trying to keep out of the way of the sailors, and at the same time to salute or converse with their friends on the dock; the rattle and bustle all around; the blow of steam from the impatient boilers; the sharp, brisk orders of the junior officers; the rush of carriages with passengers, and the shouting of draymen anxious to get their loads aboard all these sights and sounds were both felt and visible as a bright looking young man, distinctly American to all appearances, alighted from a cab and walked up the steamer's gang plank, followed by a porter and the driver with trunks and parcels.

He was indeed a bright looking youth, such as you will find in New York oftener than anywhere else, and as he reached the deck his hand was grasped by several young and enthusiastic friends who had come aboard to see him off.

This was William Barnwell, a young New Yorker, slightly over twenty one years of age, who had recently inherited quite a fortune from a deceased relative, and he was now on the point of starting on a tour which he intended should encompass the globe... Continue reading book >>

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