Simon Sebag Montefiore

Tsar Boot Sale

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

By

Yale University Press 288pp £25 order from our bookshop

This book can be read in three ways. First, it is a work of considerable scholarship and the fruit of much archival probing by a fine scholar of early Bolshevism – and much of it is fresh, exciting and overdue. Secondly, it is a study of how a new, radical and illicit government used all means possible to launder the money and treasures of Russia’s tsarist regime, sell them to the capitalists who hated the Bolsheviks, and use the ill-gotten gains to buy arms and fund the nightmarish, blood-spattered experiment of the Soviet Union. Thirdly, it has a contemporary relevance since it is the first study of illegal funding – or, as we would say today, sanctions busting – on a colossal scale. 

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