The only essay Alan Sillitoe remembers writing at school was on the German advance into Russia during the Second World War. He also remembers his first map of the Stalingrad region, on which he followed the fighting. He still has that map and is still fascinated by Russia. In 1967, with a need to get away from his writing for a month or so, he set off in a boxy blue Peugeot towards Harwich and on to Russia. In Leningrad, despite his desire to travel alone, he was provided with an official escort in the form of George Andjaparidze, a graduate of English from Moscow, who was to become a fellow journeyman and friend. In "Gadfly in Russia", Alan Sillitoe's skills as a storyteller distinguishes him yet again as he relates the adventures that befall the pair in their travels across the vast landscape of Russia. This is a story of travelling, history, people and places: from the Nazis to perestroika; Pushkin to Tolstoy; yet another police check (was it the precious maps they were after or the good looking hitchhiker?); inadvertently racing in a German motor rally heading to Moscow; as well as late nights, vodka, getting lost and the mysteries of the Russian language. A speech in Moscow on freedom, and a visit to London by George with a Russian writer that resulted in an unexpected defection, would leave Sillitoe being viewed in a less-than-favourable light by the Soviet authorities. In 2005, and invited by the British Council, he found himself once again in Russia, offering the perfect opportunity to revisit his diaries of old to create this compelling book. In the deceptively simple manner for which Alan Sillitoe is so well known, "Gadfly in Russia" is a fascinating account of one man's relationship with Russia and its people, and their changing fortunes, over the past 40 years. It is written by the best-selling author of "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" and "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner". It is a spell-binding account of his travels across Russia in his trusty old Peugeot. The author writes about his involvement with dissidents and the political repercussions. It is a timeless and timely account.