WHITE AGAINST RED: A Biography of General Anton Denikin by Dimitry V. Lehovich

WHITE AGAINST RED: A Biography of General Anton Denikin

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Denikin, commander of the White forces in Southern Russia from the October Revolution until the counterrevolutionary collapse in early 1920, epitomized Tsarist Russia. Born to a pensioned officer in a Polish backwater, devoted to his mother and the Church and often longing for nothing more than his own cabbage patch, Denikin was profoundly incapable of making political decisions or molding and enforcing policy among the diverse forces he commanded. The author, himself a soldier at seventeen in Denikin's volunteer army, lauds ""this life filled with courage and faith,"" acknowledges that Denikin's gifts were reserved to the military domain, where in World War I his adroit surprise maneuvers repeatedly lashed the Germans and Austrians. But in the Civil War, despite British assistance, Denikin's tactical abilities were undermined by the rapid maturation of the Red Army, the Cossacks' insistence on looting the population, rivalries within the anti-Bolshevik camp, and by his own political obtuseness (as when he demanded that the peasants who de facto controlled the land give half the grain to former landlords). Lehovich has done exhaustive source work, drawing on the General's private writings and his widow's recollections; though Lehovich cannot stop thinking of the Reds as ""anarchists"" or ""the mob,"" his biography has strong merit.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1974
Publisher: Norton