cover image The Lenin Plot: The Untold Story of America’s Midnight War Against Russia

The Lenin Plot: The Untold Story of America’s Midnight War Against Russia

Barnes Carr. Pegasus, $29.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-64313-317-1

Journalist Carr (Operation Whisper) delivers a lively, if somewhat speculative, account of the U.S.-concocted plot to remove Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin and install an “Allied-friendly dictator” in Russia during WWI. Shortly after the October Revolution brought the Bolsheviks to power in 1917, the U.S. Consul General in Moscow, DeWitt Clinton Poole, left the city on a covert mission to hire a Cossack army to overthrow the new government. The plan, which had the approval of President Woodrow Wilson and the backing of France and Britain (all of whom wanted to draw Russia back into the Allied war effort), also involved American-Russian tractor salesman Xenophon Kalamatiano, who recruited the Red Army’s head of communications as an informant, and a French saboteur hired to blow up Soviet bridges, airfields, and ammunition dumps. Piecing together the increasingly convoluted and elaborate scheme through newspaper accounts, archival records, letters, and biographies, Carr contends that it failed because of a lack of funds and disagreements among Cossack leaders, though he admits some pieces of the puzzle are still missing, including whether the plotters were behind Fanny Kaplan’s attempted assassination of Lenin in summer of 1918. Fluidly written and impressively researched, this espionage tale delights. Agent: Andrew Lownie, Andrew Lownie Literary. (Oct.)