The Torturer

TorturerA novel by Vladimir Volkoff
Translated by John Marson Dunaway
Published by Mercer University Press, June 2016

The Torturer provides an unforgettable case study in the controversy over torture. The hero, Robert Lavilhaud (pronounced "Lavilio," he insists), is an incredibly idealistic young officer and a fiercely devout Catholic. He is devoted to the highest traditional ideals of military service and to the Grand Dream of what Algeria can become as a fully integrated, prosperous département of France.

After his military service is completed, Lavilhaud plans to marry and finish his graduate studies in order to settle in French Algeria as a professor of literature. As officer in charge of a unit that is charged with interrogating insurrectionists and terrorists, he finds that circumstances overcome his convictions. At the same time, De Gaulle reneges on his earlier commitment to keep Algeria French. Loyalists like Lavilhaud, the Harkis, and the four French generals who staged a coup in opposition to De Gaulle's volte-face find themselves abandoned. Lavilhaud becomes the fall-guy in the political turmoil and ends up serving time in prison. Yet in the end, there is new hope for him in the form of a totally unexpected visitor to his prison cell.

This is Vladimir Volkoff's last novel and it must have been a story very near to his heart, particularly when we reflect that he too was an intelligence officer in the Algerian War in his youth and a professor of literature before he became a well-known novelist.



“Faith, Duty, and Temptation in Intelligence-Gathering: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Torture Issue”

Sponsored by Mercer's
Center for Theology and Public Life

Thursday, March 19, 2015
2-5 p.m.
Medical School Auditorium

the torturerVladimir Volkoff’s last novel, Le Tortionnaire/The Torturer (2006), will be published by Mercer University Press in the fall of 2015. 

It is the story of an idealistic young intelligence officer in the French Army during the Algerian War, a conflict in which torture was alleged to have happened all too frequently on both sides. 

To promote this new Volkoff publication and to bring people together to study an issue which remains very much alive in our own war against terrorism, Mercer is sponsoring a one-day interdisciplinary colloquium, exploring the torture issue from the ethical, literary, and geopolitical/military perspective, including ample time for questions from the audience.

  Speakers include:

David GusheeDr. David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life

Dr. Gushee teaches at McAfee School of Theology and throughout Mercer University in his specialty, Christian ethics. As director of the Center for Theology and Public Life, he organizes events and courses to advance quality conversations about major issues arising at the intersection of theology, ethics, and public policy. Professor Gushee was the principal drafter of the Evangelical Declaration against Torture (2007), which changed the conversation in church and society about the issue, and is the editor of a book on the subject called Religious Faith, Torture, and Our National Soul (Mercer Press).

John DunawayDr. John Marson Dunaway, Professor Emeritus of French
and Interdisciplinary Studies

Dr. Dunaway has retired from full-time teaching but continues to teach French and interdisciplinary studies part-time in the College of Liberal Arts. His translation of Jean-Louis Chrétien’s Under the Gaze of the Bible was published in the fall of 2014 by Fordham University Press, and he is the principal American translator of Vladimir Volkoff’s writings. He also continues to direct the annual Building the Beloved Community Symposium at Mercer.



David Irvine
Visiting Scholar Brigadier General David R. Irvine (U.S. Army Retired)

David R. Irvine is an attorney, former U.S. Army brigadier general, and former Utah state legislator. Irvine enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1962 and received a direct commission in 1967 as a strategic intelligence officer. He maintained a faculty assignment for 18 years with the Sixth U.S. Army Intelligence School, teaching prisoner-of-war interrogation and military law and was the deputy commander for the 96th Regional Readiness Command. In addition, Irvine served four terms in the Utah House of Representatives as a Republican legislator. He is currently an attorney in Salt Lake City in private practice and a member of The Constitutional Task Force Project.




An International Colloquium on the Writings of Vladimir Volkoff

The Pope's Guestl-hote-du-pape
Sponsored by Mercer's College of Liberal Arts and the Georgia Humanities Council

Celebrating the Opening of the Volkoff Archive at the

Jack Tarver Library –
Mercer University
and the Publication in English of Volkoff's 2004 Novel

The Pope's Guest/L'Hôte du Pape
(Mercer University Press)
Translated by
John Marson Dunaway

Mercer University, Macon, Georgia USA

Ordering information for The Pope’s Guest at

A recap of the colloquium, which was held Nov. 15-16, 2013:

A video of Vladimir Volkoff taken by Atlanta TV station WAGA in 1984:

Volkoff Cousin and Literary Executor
Maurice d'Argent:

Maurice d'Argent at Lee House

This project was supported by the Georgia Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities
and through appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly.

Georgia Humanities Council

Volkoff Association (Présence de Vladimir Volkoff):