In This Review

Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Plot for Global Revolution
Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Plot for Global Revolution
By Giles Milton
Bloomsbury Press, 2014, 400 pp

Readers who can overlook the far-fetched claim in this book’s subtitle will be in for one wild ride. True spy stories are good fun, and this one -- relating the madcap efforts of a small band of British intelligence agents sent into Russia during World War I -- is better than most. The team included Arthur Ransome, a leftist journalist who romanced Leon Trotsky’s secretary and joined the social circles of the highest Bolshevik leaders, including Lenin, and Sidney Reilly, the likely inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond, who hatched a loony plot in 1918 to capture Lenin and Trotsky and overthrow the Bolshevik government. Through bravery, incredible ruses, and narrow escapes, these spies provided the United Kingdom with vital intelligence on Russia -- including information about the Bolshevik plot to foment a revolution in India, the crown jewel of the British Empire.