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A Nasty Little War

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Audiobook Downloadable / ISBN-13: 9781529326802

Price: £24.99

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

The astonishing untold history of the Western invasion of Soviet Russia – and the tragedy it created.

In the closing months of WW1, with the world exhausted and depleted by a long a brutal war, fifteen nations cobbled together an army of nearly 200,000 men and embarked on one of the most extraordinary and ambitious military ventures of the twentieth century. The Intervention in Russia’s civil war was spearheaded by Britain, her colonial forces and allies. It was designed to stop the Bolsheviks in their tracks, reinstate conservative regimes in the Russian Empire and ensure that Germany did not fill the power vacuum which the Russian Revolution had created. Eighteen months later – after a long and bloody conflict between the Reds and the Whites, the execution of the former tsar and his family, and brutal famine – the British, American and French forces marched out again, surrendering to the unstoppable force of Soviet power. They sent thousands of White Russians into exile, and left death, starvation, destruction and mass pogroms in their wake.

Weaving the story together through the diaries, letters, and news reports of many of the participants this is a war of wildly contrasting fronts. A war of private armies and terrible communication, with participants freezing in bunkhouses or gorging on caviar at balls, riding into towns on steam trains or raiding naval bases in speed boats, inventing currencies, fishing for salmon and leading long straggling lines of typhus-infected refugees to safety, as well as bloody fighting.

Few have acknowledged the Intervention since. When the smoke had cleared, Soviet propagandists had a field day with it; mythologizing the arrogance and incompetence of the British alongside their fat and be-medalled White allies. For the two million White Russians who emigrated following the Revolution it was the great betrayal. In Western versions, it was easier to pretend the catastrophe had never occurred. A Nasty Little War sets history straight, peopling the battlefield with unforgettable character as it brings this tragic failure to life.

(p)2023 Hodder & Stoughton Limited


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
Elegantly written, and drawing on extensive archival research . . . This remarkable book is simultaneously comic and horrifying
BBC History Magazine, Books of the Year
Unusually entertaining
London Review of Books
Thoroughly researched, stylish and entertaining
Financial Times