THE MIDNIGHT WAR: The American Intervention in Russia, 1918-1920 by Richard Goldhurst

THE MIDNIGHT WAR: The American Intervention in Russia, 1918-1920

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In 1950 the Columbia Encyclopedia could still state that American troops had not joined in attempts to crush the infant Bolshevik Republic. Richard Goldhurst reminds us how, in 1918, at the behest of his French and English allies, Woodrow Wilson dispatched several thousand troops to Archangel and Vladivostok in a vain attempt to keep Russia in the war, safeguard mythic democratic tendencies, and rescue a legion of Czechoslovakian nationalists stranded in Siberia. American troops stayed even after the Armistice ended the most immediate excuse for their presence. Goldhurst rightly notes that intervention was ""war for ends which could not be realized, by means which could never ennoble and for reasons which were beyond comprehension."" A practiced military historian (Pipe Clay and Drill: The Biography of John J. Pershing, 1976), he incorporates the uglier details. In a typical incident a British colonel, informed that he was accidentally shelling an American position, calmly called for another quart of whiskey, and then corrected his aim. Goldhurst's extensive account of the Czech Legion, whose plight evoked the American public's sympathy and popular support for intervention, almost merits double billing in the title. Despite the admirable work of E. M. Halliday (The Ignorant Armies, 1960) and others, there is no surfeit of popular histories of the episode. Goldhurst almost completely ignores Russian and Soviet sources and his footnotes lack detail, but his treatment is engaging and should help dispel some of the ignorance that still surrounds America's intervention in Russia.

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 1978
Publisher: McGraw-Hill