A badly constructed book whose nominal topic is the bodyguard system under the pre-and post-revolutionary security police of...

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WATCHDOGS OF TERROR: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars

A badly constructed book whose nominal topic is the bodyguard system under the pre-and post-revolutionary security police of Russia. Deriabin's claim to credence is his ten-year service as a counterintelligence officer and bodyguard in the final years of Stalin's rule. But instead of elaborating new information about Kremlin security, he relegates the details of Stalin's palace-corps setup to an appendix, while a routine general history of tsarist autocracy and Soviet Communism consumes half the book. In the other half, which superficially scans the secret police, there are occasional amusing flashes of professionalism: Deriabin thinks the undercover agent Malinowski far inferior to the double agent Azev and, like a true policeman, views the Social Revolutionary terrorists, and not the overly intellectual Bolsheviks, as the genuine insurrectionaries. Some major police agents like Father Gapon are scarcely discussed, and Deriabin's anti-Communist slurs will give blush even to Conservative Book Club members (he claims that in 1918 the Cheka went around ""executing everyone who did not look like a worker or a peasant"")! The book further forfeits any claim to scholarly status with its flat statements about who garroted whom in dim medieval times. The only significant new assertion -- undocumented, as usual, and, like the rest of the book, devoid of references to Deriabin's own role -- is a claim that the Beria clique not only plotted against Stalin's attempt to purge them, but deprived the dictator of his security apparatus prior to his death. Terrible.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1972

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Arlington House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1972