Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin’s Plot for Global Revolution

Giles Milton. Bloomsbury, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-1-62040-568-0
In 1918, Lenin announced that the Bolshevik victory in Russia heralded the beginning of worldwide revolution. so why did his claim fail to bear fruit? Prolific historian Milton (The Boy Who Went to War) credits British spies in this impressive account of skullduggery carried out by colorful figures amid the chaos of revolutionary Russia. Well before the revolution, British intelligence was operating in Petrograd, tasked with keeping the crumbling Russian army in the war against Germany. A British agent probably fired the fatal shot in the 1916 murder of Rasputin, the charismatic monk who exerted a baleful influence over the Czar’s family and was widely accused of sabotaging the war effort. After the revolution, British spies successfully gathered information, engaged in sabotage, encouraged and financed the regime’s opponents, and plotted an unsuccessful coup. Those who survived often wrote self-serving memoirs, and one who didn’t inspired a BBC TV series: Reilly, Ace of Spies. While brilliant spycraft frustrated a Soviet-led invasion of India, Morton fails to make his case that it thwarted world revolution, but readers will not regret picking up this entertaining history of spectacular, often nasty derring-do by real-life secret agents. Maps, 8p. b&w insert. Agent: Georgia Garrett; Rogers, Coleridge & White (U.K.). (May)
Reviewed on: 01/27/2014
Release date: 04/29/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-1-62040-570-3
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