In This Review

The Lenin Plot: The Unknown Story of America’s War Against Russia
The Lenin Plot: The Unknown Story of America’s War Against Russia
By Barnes Carr
Pegasus Books, 2020, 400 pp.

Soon after the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin made peace with Germany and in so doing turned Russia into an existential enemy of Western powers and a traitor to the World War I anti-German alliance. France, the United Kingdom, and the United States intervened with the intention of overthrowing the Bolshevik government and plotted to kill Lenin and his main associates. Carr’s account reads like a thriller—as Western spies conspire with reckless adventurers and professional Russian terrorists—set against the backdrop of a tumultuous period, with Russia racked by civil war, violence, starvation, and epidemics. Leftist radicals assassinated the German ambassador inside his Moscow embassy in 1918, the same year Bolsheviks murdered the tsar’s family in the Urals. Lenin survived an attempt on his life, an attack that was probably unrelated to Western plans to kill him. The Western plot came to an end after the Cheka, the Bolshevik security police, infiltrated the ranks of the plotters and arrested many of its members. In 1921, in return for U.S. aid, the Bolshevik government handed over 100 Americans who were involved in this futile bid to snuff out the Soviet Union in its infancy.