Synopses & Reviews
In 1917, a band of communist revolutionaries stormed the Winter Palace of Tsar Nicholas II—a dramatic and explosive act marking that Vladimir Lenins communist revolution was now underway. But Lenin would not be satisfied with overthrowing the tsar. His goal was a global revolt that would topple all Western capitalist regimes—starting with the British Empire.
Russian Roulette tells the spectacular and harrowing story of the British spies in revolutionary Russia whose mission was to stop Lenins red tide from washing across the free world. They were an eccentric cast of characters, led by Mansfield Cumming, a one-legged, monocle-wearing former sea captain, and included novelist W. Somerset Maugham, beloved childrens author Arthur Ransome, and the dashing, ice-cool Sidney Reilly, the legendary Ace of Spies and a model for Ian Flemings James Bond. Cummings network would pioneer the field of covert action and would one day become MI6.
Living in disguise, constantly switching identities, they infiltrated Soviet commissariats, the Red Army, and Cheka (the feared secret police), and would come within a whisker of assassinating Lenin. As Giles Milton chronicles for the first time, in a sequence of bold exploits that stretched from Moscow to the central Asian city of Tashkent, this unlikely band of agents succeeded in foiling Lenins plot for global revolution.
"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.)." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Milton has a rare ability—a talent for sifting fine pearls from faraway sands and transmuting the merely arcane into little literary gems." —Simon Winchester, Boston Globe "Impressive . . . [an] entertaining history of spectacular, often nasty derring-do by real-life secret agents." —Publishers Weekly "Giles Milton's research is impeccable and his narrative reads in part like a modern-day Robert Louis Stevenson novel." —The Times on Nathaniels Nutmeg
"Replete with cloak-and-dagger details…Miltons vivid presentation…will entertain aficionados of intelligence." -Booklist
“Milton has a rare ability—a talent for sifting fine pearls from faraway sands and transmuting the merely arcane into little literary gems.” —Simon Winchester, Boston Globe
The bestselling author of Nathaniels Nutmeg tells the gripping and unknown history of British spies in revolutionary Russia—a colorful true saga of espionage in the vein of Operation Mincemeat and Agent Zigzag.
About the Author
Giles Milton is the author of many books, including the international bestsellers Nathaniels Nutmeg and Big Chief Elizabeth. His other titles include The Riddle and the Knight: In Search of Sir John Mandeville, Samurai William: The Englishman Who Opened Japan, and Wolfram: The Boy Who Went to War. His website is www.gilesmilton.com and he tweets @SurviveHistory. He lives in London.