Never the Last One


Never The Last One

Many have asked what 'Never The Last One' means. It's an old Russian Spetznaz saying: You can kill me, you can kill my section, you can kill my Rota but we will get you in the end. I may be the first in the line but I am never the last one....

R H Auslander’s novel Never the Last One manages to capture a pure and undistorted image of the complex Russian identity and culture which is incredibly rare to find outside of the Russian world. The author’s deft hand and storytelling ability open to the reader a view of Russia few outside of Russia have seen in a gripping tale of war and romance wrapped in a vivid panorama of love and honor, loyalty, faith and duty. With the clouds of war darkening the horizon for all to see the story unfolds of Annya Dmitrovna, a beautiful Russian lady, and Starshi Sarjant Roman Ivan’vich, a foreign man, a professional soldier serving for Russia in 317 Independent Spetznaz Regiment.

Their romance blossoms into an understanding during a night of good food, good wine and animated conversation, the thought of war banished from their minds when Roman Ivan’vich is suddenly ordered at 01:00 in the morning to report to his regiment immediately. As the regiment gathers and moves to assembly and deployment an ominous event portends trouble.

When the war begins and the fighting progresses treachery rears its ugly head, a treachery and betrayal that goes to the very heights of power in Moskau contrasting dramatically with the courage, honor and loyalty of the Spetznaz set in the mixture of east and west that is Russia and the unique culture of her Spetznaz, those warriors who are never defeated, who are Never The Last One.

Available for purchase on Amazon. Paperback edition: 662 pg. $28.95

Available for purchase on Amazon. Kindle edition: 662 pg. $19.95

Available from the author, electronic edition via PDF file. Please email for purchase via contact email. Payment via paypal only except in Russia, where other payment methods are available. 662 pages, $12.95, R 1456.35.

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January 23, 2016

Auslander’s book, Never the Last One: a Novel of Spetznaz, opens our eyes to a world not described in American news or fiction. In some ways it was like looking into our own past. There is a real distinction between the sexes. In contrast to modern American women whose ideal is to be as masculine as possible — and if not masculine, then neutered — the Russian women are truly feminine. But they are not weak, dependent wall flowers. Many of the women portrayed in the book are decisive, strong, resourceful, and very memorable.

The best of the male characters are portrayed as chivalrous warriors, motivated by real loyalties to Russian Orthodox Christianity and Mother Russia. These qualities are such a refreshing change from the utterly cynical, brutal, selfish, and calculating dead men that take leading roles in American movies and books.

The story is mostly about war. There is no moral relativism here. The enemy is fearsome. He is clever and devious, an excellent strategist and tactician. But he is brutal and savage: to innocent civilians, to Russian soldiers, and above all to his own fighters. Disobedience or simple failure by a leader is punished, not just by his own death, but by all of his extended family. The enemy troops are fed into massive attacks with no concern about losses. The fighting is monstrous and desperate.

The Russian side is bedeviled by treachery in high places in Moscow, and a full court press from opinion makers of the West and UN diplomats. But even with the mayhem of battle the story is relieved by touching moments of romance where Cupid strikes various couples. The book begins by recounting how the two main characters meet and fall in love. Their contacts are woven into the fabric of the stories of struggle and valor.

The author is a terrific story teller. The story is immediately interesting and the pace never stops. The characters — good and bad — are pungent and memorable. In this era where the leaders of the West seem to be moving their countries into conflict with Russia, the book provides an enlightening insight into the Russian point of view. And this enlightenment comes painlessly as a byproduct of a fantastic read.
doodadazeon July 25, 2016
Could not wait to pick up this book after work every night. Like seeing an old welcoming friend every day. Cant wait to read Auslander’s next book about Krima.
By M H Burton on February 2, 2016
Interesting to get a viewpoint that is not coming from the typical “western” point of view. Although I have been aware if this myself, it is encouraging to see in print that, contrary to the belief that western governments would have everyone subscribe to, Russia is not the “Godless” communist country a lot of people think it is. It instead has a Christian community presence far greater than the west does.
November 28, 2017

This was an extremely enjoyable book, and unusual both stylistically and with regard to subject matter seldom seen in the West. I have to say I found the book captivating and hard to put down, with well maintained suspense and action, sprinkled with more character and culture study portions which were generally quite interesting. I withheld a star because this was the author’s first novel, and there are a few minor things that leave room for improvement. Some of the courtship material was a little slow and repetitive, as are a few descriptive terms or phrases. There are unconventional spellings of certain place names but not others, which gives a nice exotic flare but can leave the reader a little uncertain early in the book until you confirm that’s what is going on. But all-in-all a very enjoyable and enlightening book which I would definitely recommend to anyone, and I plan on buying future works from the author.
December 10, 2017
I finished your book two weeks ago. I must say it was a very enjoyable and worth the long read. It is a very well written book. The characters are believable, the story is very easy to be drawn into, the details are very well researched. I found myself reading the book deep into the night. Your novel also elegantly captured the atmosphere of Russia at the time, everything was as I remember Russia in my earlier years. Overall, I loved how the story flowed and how easy the book felt to read. For the first time in a long time, I actually enjoyed reading! Of course, the ending made me grin. I must ask, was it written before February of 2014? Translated from Russian by CEE.
Author’s reply: “Yes, the Post Scriptum was written in April 2013.”
I read everything I can find about Russia but I've never seen anything like this novel. Having traveled often to many cities in Russia, I find the detail in this book amazing, and the view in to Russian Culture pales when compared to the vision one gets of Russian Armed Forces, not only the fighters but the field hospitals and support units and even the families of the soldiers. Well done! I am reading the author's other three books now.
December 13, 2015
Not many books have touched me in recent times like this one. I was many times almost crying. As it is said: No one understands war, who was not fighting in war. And no one hates war more than a true warrior. But with this book some will understand what war really means and what it means to be a warrior on the side of truth. Most touched I was by the descriptions of Father Mitrofan and Father Sergei, the Warrior Priests, and by the other people that “see”. Some of that made my skin crawl. This is by the way something that I feel sometimes, when I go to Orthodox places: That there are people, that “see” me. I am more than 40 years now in a kind of spiritual nexus, and I have never felt this before. No place to hide anymore. Thank you very much, Auslander.
Amy Han-Chi Ng
Amazing story
November 24, 2018
Verified Purchase
I was gripped from first page to the last. I never liked war books or movies but there is something about this one....

Interesting book on Spetznas
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This book was unusual for several reasons. It focused on the Spetznas and it's functions. The background on Russian culture was enlightening and interesting. The book definitely kept me interested and wondering what would happen next!
See the other side of the world.
May 17, 2018
Couldn’t stop reading this. What a story! Strange names, places, people, battles unknown to readers of the MSM. An inside look at the emergence of the Russian Federation.


Odessa, An Early Spring Dawn

Annushka rose early, why she did not know, actually she had hardly slept at all, so she took the first pair of dogs, Par and Darya, out to walk them. The predawn was warm and soft, the moon bright, the few street lights casting a gentle glow, a mist in some areas forming a soft and delicate golden halo around the lamps. She smiled for a moment, watching her huge mahogany collie Par gently nuzzle his wife Darya before continuing with his swaying gait, his long hair flowing side to side, his chest ruff narrow and brilliant white. Darya followed behind him faithfully, trotting from time to time as Annushka gave her more leash to keep up with Par, Darya’s coal black hair blending with the night, just the white of her shoulder mane showing where she was. She smiled again, thinking. "If only my Roma was here, it would be so romantic to walk with him in this dawn. Par and Darya are so tender this morning, the world is quiet, so beautiful, so peaceful. Where is my Roma? Why isn’t he here to enjoy this beautiful and gentle night with me? What is he doing now? I know he is serving, and I worry of him."

There were no cars out except one tired old Militsiya Lada. The car slowed as it passed her, the Sarjant in the right front looking at her, recognizing her and calling a quite greeting which she returned with a wave. Nothing else, not a soul, was around. “I swore I would never let a man in to my heart again. My husband died two weeks after we married when I was 18 and he was but 20. Never again would I have the heartbreak of that. Never. And then the Madame Polkovnik, my dear friend, the loving mother I never had, introduced me to my Roma these many years later. I swore I would not let him in, I swore I would not love him when I let him in, I swore I would not lose him when I fell in love with him. Now my Roma is gone, off to another war. When will it end, when will our men be allowed to stay with us and not go off fighting in some soon to be forgotten dark corner of this vast land?”

She walked, Par and Darya staying close to her now, sensing her troubled mind, Darya staying so close to her they touched. “I was so happy when my Roma’s two letters arrived. The young Lutanant, not much more than a child in uniform, blushed when he handed them to me at my flat door, saying before I could ask ‘Please ask me no questions, Madame Starshi Sarjant, I cannot tell you anything.’ I smiled at him and thanked him for the letters and I told him I know, I know I can ask nothing about my Roma or his Regiment or the coming war. He smiled and left. In the morning I will go to Church, I will speak to Father Piotr’s assistant Natalya, his aid, she who in reality runs the Church, I will have prayers said by Father Piotr for my Roma and his men, his Regiment. In his second letter my Roma gave me the name and phone number of the mother of a young Medical Sister he met. While I am worried of my Roma, poor Sophia is frantic with worry and fear of her daughter. She lives not far from my flat here in Odessa and I know the Madame Polkovnik will also come to me, we will go to Church together to offer our prayers.”

Annushka continued to walk, silently enjoying the early predawn ambiance, Par and Darya staying close to her as she thought. ‘Another block to the park. I will slip their leashes and let them run and play for a bit, then back to the flat to walk the other pair. It will be good for them to run, no one is out, no one will be worried about the dogs, they can jump and play as they want.’ She glanced at her watch. It was 03:30.

Suddenly Par went to alert, uttering a deep, long low growl with bared fangs, his hackles and bright white ruff flaring, looking straight east where the first delicate softening of the night sky on the far horizon told where dawn would break, his eyes narrowed. Par was not pulling and spoiling for a fight as usual, all he did was stand and look east where the sun would rise and continue to growl with bared fangs and ears back, a deep, wet guttural growl she’d never heard before. He stopped growling and looked at her, starting to whine. He took a step towards her, ears up, whined again, turned and looked east. Darya started to get nervous, also whining and looking east, ears up and listening. ‘What do they hear?’ she thought as she looked around.

Par turned back east and without warning roared and lunged forward, nearly catching Annushka off balance. She pulled almost in panic at his leash as of a sudden Darya also snarled and lunged forward. As she struggled to control the dogs Par and Darya started to bark frantically, both looking east and pulling at their leashes. Par suddenly stopped and sat, snapping once at Darya who was instantly quiet and sat beside him, both dogs whining softly, looking east with their ears up, listening. She wrapped the leashes more securely around her hand as she looked around again. “I see nothing, absolutely nothing. What is going on? Why are they so savage, why did they attack and what did they attack?”

Just as the dogs calmed her cell phone vibrated silently. She looked at the number and saw it was Sophia. Fearing the worst, she answered. “Annushka! Where are you? I am at your flat.”

Annushka was puzzled. “I am walking the dogs. What’s wrong?”

“Come home, Annushka, come home! The news...the war..” Sophia burst in to tears.

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