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

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

bySean Mcmeekin

Hardcover | December 16, 2008

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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.

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.
Title:History's Greatest Heist: The Looting of Russia by the BolsheviksFormat:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 1.06 inPublished:December 16, 2008Publisher:Yale University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0300135580

ISBN - 13:9780300135589

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from An informative and well-written book on an unfortunately neglected subject McMeekin is to be commended for this book. He looks at how Lenin and the Bolseheviks when they took over Russia stole thousands of dollars gold and other materials from the aristocracy regular Russians, clergy Russian banks and anyone who was legitimately owed money by the country of Russia. To my knowledge this subject has never been written about before and that fact alone counts in McMeekin's favour. He discusses the many interesting items that were stolen and the history behind them and gives the victims of Soviet Communism at least some of the recognition he deserves. Much of the book is also quite interesting. Indeed, McMeekin's analysis of how the communist robbed the churches and the communist "loot the looters" campaign, alone makes the book worth reading. His second part also shows how the Soviet government sought to engage in international trade, meet its financial obligations and raise enough money to fight off resistance to the revolution. This part is also interesting. However, I must caution that parts of the book are excessively detailed and the chapter on the seizure of the Russian banks is particularly difficult to follow if you don't have prior knowledge (which I didn't) some parts of the book are quite slow. Despite this overall it is a well written work and illuminates an important part of history that is not known by many. Recommended
Date published: 2016-12-16

Editorial Reviews

Received Honorable Mention for the 2010 Ed A. Hewett Book Prize, sponsored by the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, and awarded by the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.