RUSSIAN ROULETTE tells the story of the first global plot and the British spies who were sent to thwart it.
1917, post-Russian Revolution, an unlikely and eccentric band of British spies are smuggled into newly Soviet Russia to thwart Lenin's plan to destroy British rule in India, as a precursor to toppling the democracies of the West. The spies, under Mansfield Cumming, were the unsung founders of the present-day MI6.
The Soviet plot was breathtaking in scale: its aim was to destroy British rule in India, as a precursor to toppling the democracies of the West. It was to bring together two deadly forces - Soviet revolutionaries and Islamic jihadis - to form a highly toxic threat.
Unbeknownst to Moscow, a small band of British spies had been secretly smuggled into Russia in the aftermath of the 1917 revolution. They were an unlikely group of men: self taught and highly educated. Their boss was endearingly eccentric. Mansfield Cumming was a monocled, one-legged sea captain with a passion for secret inks and homemade explosives. Cumming gave his agents free range to do whatever they wanted once they were inside Soviet Russia: 'Just don't get yourself killed,' was his only injunction.
Over the course of the next three years, his spies would be involved in murder, deception and duplicity on a grand scale. Living in disguise - and constantly switching identities - they would infiltrate Soviet commissariats, the Red Army and Cheka (secret police), and would come
Giles Milton's fast-packed account of Britain's attempts to sabotage Lenin's revolution reads like a madcap thriller ... Milton has synthesised and filleted a mass of material - old memoirs, official archives and newly released intelligence files - to produce a rollicking tale ... which explains the long war against Russia with verve, wit and colour. It reads like fiction, but it is, astonishingly, history. - The Times
This gripping history of derring-do and invisible ink brings to life the exploits of the British spies who waged war against Russia during the Cold War ... Full of novelistic flourishes ... [readers] will find themselves as gripped as they would be by the very best of Fleming or le Carre. - Sunday Times Culture
Milton is a compulsive storyteller whose rattling style ensures this is the antithesis of a dry treatise on espionage. And unlike 007, it's all true. - The Daily Express
A terrific story, told with Milton's customary fluency and eye for detail. - Mail on Sunday
Giles Milton is a writer and historian. He is the internationally bestselling author of eleven books including Nathaniel's Nutmeg, White Gold, Samurai William, Paradise Lost, Russian Roulette, D-Day: The Soldier's Story and Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. He has also written three novels and three children's books. His books have been translated into twenty-five languages. He lives in London.