Book Review: Stamping Out the Virus: Allied Intervention in the Russian Civil War, 1918-1920


by Perry Moore

Atglen, Pa.: Schiffer, 2002. Pp. 408. Illus., maps, tables, biblio. $35.00. ISBN:0-7643-1625-7

While ostensibly focused on Western intervention in Russia after World War I, Stamping Out the Virus actually provides the most detailed account this reviewer has seen of military events during much of the civil war between the Bolsheviks (the “Reds”) and anti-Bolsheviks (the “Whites”). This is a difficult subject to handle, given that operations took place on many different fronts separated literally by continental land masses, and the author wisely excludes from his account the even more complex events in Siberia (can we hope to expect a follow-on account of that campaign?). The work, which is profusely illustrated and well mapped, is particularly useful in unraveling operations in Central Asia and the Caucasus, where the conflict was for a time three-sides; Allied-White vs. Germano-Turkish, vs., Bolshevik.

Notably useful features are a detailed account of the financial cost to the Allies of supporting the Anti-Bolsheviks. For the campaign in southern Russia and Ukraine, the author provides a fairly detailed look at the organization and logistical problems of the White forces. There is also an interesting short, but comprehensive treatment of the use of tanks in some of the operations. In addition, for many of the operations the author provides valuable summaries of manpower and equipment, far more important than the often copious order-of-battle detail that would have best been relegated to an appendix.

The book has some flaws. More attention should have been devoted to fitting the military events into the broader political and diplomatic background. An index and a list of abbreviations would have been very useful. A more thorough editing would have been useful, as some usages are flatly inaccurate (e.g., “the H.M.S.”) and there are a number of misspellings.

The book, which, by the way is extremely well made, is certain to be of value to those interested in Russian military history and the era of the First World War

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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