Book cover for The Russian Job

The Russian Job



14 November 2019
464 pages
Imprint: Picador


These young men come to life in Smith’s book, flickering past like characters in the black-and-white movies of the era. Their heroism and failings, their love of Russia (and Russian women) help humanize a story that could all too easily slip into the grim abstraction of statistics, which touch neither mind nor heart. Despite the epic sweep, the horror and moral splendor of this story, it is essentially unknown . . . This book, Smith says at the outset, 'seeks to right this wrong.' It succeeds. Clear, forceful, and compelling, The Russian Job tells us what happened and who made it happen.
The American troops who landed in Russia to help reverse the Bolshevik coup of 1917 did little to change history, but cast as imperialist villains, they were useful to Soviet propagandists charged with rewriting it. In The Russian Job, Douglas Smith tells the remarkable tale of a different, largely forgotten yet infinitely more effective intervention . . . A well-written account of a story that should not have passed into obscurity.
The Russian Job by Douglas Smith repudiates the modern mythologies of both [the United States and Russia], and their leaders’ twisted histories . . . It is not just Russia that needs to be reminded of this story – so does America, which derived much of its 20th-century greatness from its values rather than military power.
Based on rich archival materials, [The Russian Job] focuses on a group of young Americans who set off for Russia, lured by the exotic and the unknown, and found themselves in the middle of a horrific tragedy . . . Rare photos included in the book lend Smith’s account an eerie vividness.