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Spies and Commissars Bolshevik Russia and the West by Robert Service

Spies and Commissars Bolshevik Russia and the West


Spies and Commissars Bolshevik Russia and the West by Robert Service

In the immediate aftermath of the Revolution, the Western powers were anxious to prevent the spread of Bolshevism across Europe. Lenin and Trotsky were equally anxious that the Communist vision they were busy introducing in Russia should do just that. But neither side knew anything about the other. The revolution and Russia's withdrawal from the First World War had ensured a diplomatic exodus from Moscow and the usual routes to vital information had been closed off. Into this void stepped an extraordinary collection of opportunists, journalists and spies - sometimes indeed journalists who were spies and vice versa: in Moscow Britain's Arthur Ransome, the American John Reed and Sidney Reilly - `Ace of Spies' - all traded information and brokered deals between Russia and the West; in Berlin, Paris and London, the likes of Maxim Litvinov, Adolf Ioffe and Kamenev tried to infiltrate the political elite and influence foreign policy to the Bolshevik's advantage. Robert Service, acclaimed historian and one of our finest commentators on matters Soviet, turns his meticulous eye to this ragtag group of people and, with narrative flair and impeccable research, reveals one of the great untold stories of the twentieth century.


Library Journal [A] well-researched, detailed, and thoughtful analysis of the Russian Revolution, here removed from the global vacuum into which it is often relegated.... Service is careful not to lose focus on the cultural, political, and economic weight that the revolution brought to a dispirited Russia.... [A] nuanced and important contribution to the history of the Russian Revolution. Readers of Russian and early Soviet history, both in and out of academia, will find it illuminating. Kirkus Reviews

Careful, dense scholarly study that paints detailed portraits of the revolutionary principals and their sometimes-surprising allies and enemies.

About the Author

Robert Service is a Fellow of the British Academy and of St Antony's College, Oxford. He has written several books, including the highly acclaimed Lenin: A Biography, Russia: Experiment with a People , Stalin: A Biography and Comrades: A History of World Communism, as well as many other books on Russia's past and present. His most recent book, Trotsky: A Biography was awarded the 2009 Duff Cooper Prize. Married with four children, he lives in London.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st June 2012


Robert Service

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Pan Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan


464 pages


European history
20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000



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