Extravagant adventure with a Cossack regiment in revolutionary Russia in which Svidine, a youthful Cossack officer, survives more perils than John Wayne in a Wild West epic. Despite the guerrilla-style ambushes, massacres and heroic escapes of the many small bands of Whites who rallied to Generals Kornilov and (later) Wrangler, the romantic, sword-brandishing Cossacks were doomed to failure: the Allies hardly helped at all and the Bolsheviks were making more and more inroads among the peasants. Svidine decided to get out while the going was good, but while on the run in Yugoslavia, he receives a summons from one Colonel Pokrovsky who shows him an enormous cache of jewels, foreign currencies, platinum bars and gold rubles amassed by the White Army generals to finance the Civil War. They bury the loot in a Bulgarian forest, the Colonel is killed off, and Svidine spends the rest of his life trying to get his hands on it. As a stateless Russian exile he wanders from Yugoslavia to Turkey to Greece to Belgium and France and back again obsessed with the secret of the treasure which ""ruined my life."" He does actually succeed in smuggling out a part of the hoard: the plotting which goes into his forays into Bulgaria is as tortuous and complex as any French connection. Between times, Svidine supports himself with a variety of unsavory but daring schemes including selling homemade ""secret documents'"" to the U.S. and Nationalist Chinese embassies. Svidine may not be an admirable character and you won't necessarily believe every word he says, but that stash in Bulgaria does act as a magnet.