History's Greatest Heist: The Looting of Russia by the Bolsheviks

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9780300135589: History's Greatest Heist: The Looting of Russia by the Bolsheviks

Historians have never resolved a central mystery of the Russian Revolution: How did the Bolsheviks, despite facing a world of enemies and leaving nothing but economic ruin in their path, manage to stay in power through five long years of civil war?  In this penetrating book, Sean McMeekin draws on previously undiscovered materials from the Soviet Ministry of Finance and other European and American archives to expose some of the darkest secrets of Russia’s early days of communism. Building on one archival revelation after another, the author reveals how the Bolsheviks financed their aggression through astonishingly extensive thievery. Their looting included everything from the cash savings of private citizens to gold, silver, diamonds, jewelry, icons, antiques, and artwork.

 

By tracking illicit Soviet financial transactions across Europe, McMeekin shows how Lenin’s regime accomplished history’s greatest heist between 1917 and 1922 and turned centuries of accumulated wealth into the sinews of class war. McMeekin also names names, introducing for the first time the compliant bankers, lawyers, and middlemen who, for a price, helped the Bolsheviks launder their loot, impoverish Russia, and impose their brutal will on millions.

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About the Author:

Sean McMeekin is assistant professor of international relations, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey. He is the author of The Red Millionaire: A Political Biography of Willy Münzenberg, Moscow’s Secret Propaganda Tsar in the West, published by Yale University Press. He lives in Ankara.

From The New Yorker:

After the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks were enmeshed in a civil war and desperate for funds for everything from guns and boots for soldiers to a luxury car for Lenin. In theory, they had at their disposal the riches of the deposed Tsar, including one of the worlds great reserves of gold. But the gold was the security for Russias national debt, and most of Europe didnt recognize the new regime or its right to the treasury anyway; in todays terms, it was a rogue state under heavy sanctions whose assets were effectively frozen. What followed, McMeekin writes, was a gold-laundering boom, involving art-thieving commissars, double-dealing smugglers, and a surprisingly nefarious cast of Swedes. The Bolsheviks put teams to work prying pearls from centuries-old icons, cracked open private safe-deposit boxes, and even stripped a necklace from Catherine the Greats tomb. McMeekins outrage about the crimes occasionally overgilds a good and relevant story, but, given the economic and cultural cost to the Russian people, it is understandable.
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Book Description Yale University Press, United States, 2009. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 236 x 157 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Historians have never resolved a central mystery of the Russian Revolution: How did the Bolsheviks, despite facing a world of enemies and leaving nothing but economic ruin in their path, manage to stay in power through five long years of civil war? In this penetrating book, Sean McMeekin draws on previously undiscovered materials from the Soviet Ministry of Finance and other European and American archives to expose some of the darkest secrets of Russia s early days of communism. Building on one archival revelation after another, the author reveals how the Bolsheviks financed their aggression through astonishingly extensive thievery. Their looting included everything from the cash savings of private citizens to gold, silver, diamonds, jewelry, icons, antiques, and artwork. By tracking illicit Soviet financial transactions across Europe, McMeekin shows how Lenin s regime accomplished history s greatest heist between 1917 and 1922 and turned centuries of accumulated wealth into the sinews of class war.McMeekin also names names, introducing for the first time the compliant bankers, lawyers, and middlemen who, for a price, helped the Bolsheviks launder their loot, impoverish Russia, and impose their brutal will on millions. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780300135589

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Book Description Yale University Press, United States, 2009. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 236 x 157 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Historians have never resolved a central mystery of the Russian Revolution: How did the Bolsheviks, despite facing a world of enemies and leaving nothing but economic ruin in their path, manage to stay in power through five long years of civil war? In this penetrating book, Sean McMeekin draws on previously undiscovered materials from the Soviet Ministry of Finance and other European and American archives to expose some of the darkest secrets of Russia s early days of communism. Building on one archival revelation after another, the author reveals how the Bolsheviks financed their aggression through astonishingly extensive thievery. Their looting included everything from the cash savings of private citizens to gold, silver, diamonds, jewelry, icons, antiques, and artwork. By tracking illicit Soviet financial transactions across Europe, McMeekin shows how Lenin s regime accomplished history s greatest heist between 1917 and 1922 and turned centuries of accumulated wealth into the sinews of class war.McMeekin also names names, introducing for the first time the compliant bankers, lawyers, and middlemen who, for a price, helped the Bolsheviks launder their loot, impoverish Russia, and impose their brutal will on millions. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780300135589

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