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A Nasty Little War

The Western Fight to Reverse the Russian Revolution

Anna Reid



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John Murray
14 November 2023

'Chillingly original' Max Hastings

'A vivid and sparkling account, full of colour and dark drama' Observer

'Brilliantly depicts a disastrous failure' Antony Beevor

'Witty and elegant . . . Excellent background to today's events' Anne Applebaum

'Britain's most forgotten war, brilliantly remembered' Simon Jenkins

'Vivid and remarkably timely' Martin Sixsmith

From the bestselling author of Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine

The extraordinary story of how the West tried to reverse the Russian Revolution.

In the closing months of the First World War, Britain, America, France and Japan sent arms and 180,000 soldiers to Russia, with the aim of tipping the balance in her post-revolutionary Civil War. From Central Asia to the Arctic and from Poland to the Pacific, they joined anti-Bolshevik forces in trying to overthrow the new men in the Kremlin, in an astonishingly ambitious military adventure known as the Intervention.

Fresh, in the case of the British, from the trenches, they found themselves in a mobile, multi-sided conflict as different as possible from the grim stasis of the Western Front. Criss-crossing the shattered Russian empire in trains, sleds and paddlesteamers, they bivouacked in snowbound cabins and Kirghiz yurts, torpedoed Red battleships from speedboats, improvised new currencies and the world's first air-dropped chemical weapons, got caught up in mass retreats and a typhus epidemic, organised several coups and at least one assassination. Taking tea with warlords and princesses, they also turned a blind eye to their Russian allies' numerous atrocities.

Two years later they left again, filing glumly back onto their troopships as port after port fell to the Red Army. Later, American veterans compared the humiliation to Vietnam, and the politicians and generals responsible preferred to trivialise or forget. Drawing on previously unused diaries, letters and memoirs, A Nasty Little War brings an episode with echoes down the century since vividly to life.
Imprint:   John Murray
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 232mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 36mm
Weight:   500g
ISBN:   9781529326772
ISBN 10:   152932677X
Pages:   384
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Anna Reid is a historian and journalist. She is the author of Borderland: a Journey through the History of Ukraine, now in its fourth edition, The Shaman's Coat: a Native History of Siberia, and Leningrad: Tragedy of a City under Siege, 1941-44, which was shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize and has been translated into eighteen languages. From 1993-5 she was Kyiv correspondent for The Economist, from 2002-6 she was director of the foreign policy programme at the think tank Policy Exchange, and she is a trustee of the Ukrainian Institute London. She lives in London.

Reviews for A Nasty Little War: The Western Fight to Reverse the Russian Revolution

"Reid brilliantly depicts the disastrous failure of our intervention in the ""Russian"" civil war. The atmosphere, the characters, the absurdity are all there -- Antony Beevor In witty, elegant prose, Anna Reid uncovers the true story of the West's failed and forgotten attempt to reverse the Bolshevik revolution. Excellent background to today's events -- Anne Applebaum Britain's most forgotten war, brilliantly remembered -- Simon Jenkins Reid brings this little-known period thrillingly back to life . . . A vivid and sparkling account, full of colour and dark drama -- The Observer Chillingly original -- Max Hastings, 'Pick of the Week', The Times"

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