To Break Russia’s Chains: Boris Savinkov and His Wars Against the Tsar and the Bolsheviks

Vladimir Alexandrov. Pegasus, $29.95 (576 pages) ISBN 978-1-64313-718-6
Alexandrov (The Black Russian), a professor emeritus of Slavic languages and literatures at Yale, delivers an exhaustively researched biography of Russian revolutionary Boris Savinkov (1879–1925). Raised in Warsaw, Savinkov planned targeted assassinations of officials in the imperial Russian government and published books defending the use of “moral” terrorism to fight tyranny. As a war correspondent during WWI, he supported the Russian and Allied war effort, and his elation at Czar Nicholas II’s abdication in 1917 turned to bitter disgust when the Bolsheviks seized power and signed a peace treaty ceding Russian territories to the Central Powers. Savinkov enlisted former czarist officers and moderate revolutionaries in armed uprisings against the Bolsheviks. Forced to flee the country, he continued his counterrevolutionary activities from Paris and Warsaw, until he was lured back to Moscow in 1924, where he was arrested and imprisoned before allegedly dying by suicide (his wife and others claimed he was killed). Alexandrov suggests that Savinkov’s declaration of support for the Bolsheviks before his death was part of a plot to assassinate a member of the Politburo. Marshalling a large cast of characters and a mountain of research into a fluid narrative, Alexandrov clarifies the complex dynamics of the Russian Revolution. This trenchant biography gives its fascinating subject his due. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/08/2021
Release date: 09/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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