History of War
TO BREAK RUSSIA’S CHAINS
A HIGHLY IMPRESSIVE GUIDE TO THE SWIRLING COMPLEXITIES OF THE RUSSIAN CIVIL WAR Author: Vladimir Alexandrov Publisher: Pegasus Books Price: £22
This excellent study expertly chronicles the complexities of the Russian Revolution and the Civil War through the extraordinary life of Boris Savinkov. Dubbed neither a Red nor a White, he waged war first against the Tsar and then the Bolsheviks. Starting life as a revolutionary assassin, Savinkov rose to become Minister of War in Kerensky’s beleaguered government. The breadth of Alexandrov’s research is highly impressive as is his large cast of characters, whom he handles very deftly.
Woven into this remarkable tale is Winston Churchill, who backed international intervention supporting the Whites and Admiral Kolchak – who provided the only viable opposition to the Bolsheviks. Savinkov who campaigned for universal suffrage for all Russians, feared that Kolchak was simply playing lip service to this to please the Allies. Notably it was Savinkov who persuaded Churchill to support the Whites with men, money and weapons. Ultimately, though, these were unable to save the Whites from their own military ineptitude.
Savinkov’s fate was suicide while in a Soviet prison. Tantalisingly, though, he offered a glimpse of what Russia could have become rather than what it became – the Soviet Union. As Alexandrov admits, he is drawn to figures “who have fallen through the cracks of history and deserve to be brought back to public memory”. This very welcome biography now brings Savinkov’s adventures to a whole new audience.
“STARTING LIFE AS A REVOLUTIONARY ASSASSIN, SAVINKOV ROSE TO BECOME MINISTER OF WAR IN KERENSKY’S BELEAGUERED GOVERNMENT”