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History's Greatest Heist: The Looting of Russia by the Bolsheviks Hardcover – December 16, 2008


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History's Greatest Heist: The Looting of Russia by the Bolsheviks + The Red Millionaire: A Political Biography of Willy Münzenberg, Moscow's Secret Propaganda Tsar in the West, 1917-1940
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (December 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300135580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300135589
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #303,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

After the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks were enmeshed in a civil war and desperate for funds for everything from guns and boots for soldiers to a luxury car for Lenin. In theory, they had at their disposal the riches of the deposed Tsar, including one of the world�s great reserves of gold. But the gold was the security for Russia�s national debt, and most of Europe didn�t recognize the new regime or its right to the treasury anyway; in today�s terms, it was a rogue state under heavy sanctions whose assets were effectively frozen. What followed, McMeekin writes, was a �gold-laundering boom,� involving art-thieving commissars, double-dealing smugglers, and a surprisingly nefarious cast of Swedes. The Bolsheviks put teams to work prying pearls from centuries-old icons, cracked open private safe-deposit boxes, and even stripped a necklace from Catherine the Great�s tomb. McMeekin�s outrage about the crimes occasionally overgilds a good and relevant story, but, given the economic and cultural cost to the Russian people, it is understandable.
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Review

Received Honorable Mention for the 2010 Ed A. Hewett Book Prize, sponsored by the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, and awarded by the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.
(Ed A. Hewett Book Prize Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies 2010-11-01)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Well researched, well written.
Debby Cradick
This book has these main great qualities: 1- About the massive robbering of "Soviet" people by the Marxists and dooming of a first class economy, this book is great.
Dalton C. Rocha
It made me very sorrowful and revengeful for the actions of these robbers.
Jimmy Porter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. Lynn on March 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
HISTORY'S GREATEST HEIST: THE LOOTING OF RUSSIA BY THE BOLSHEVIKS
SEAN MCMEEKIN
YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2009
HARDCOVER, $38.00, 308 PAGES, PHOTOGRAPHS, ABBREVIATIONS, NOTES, BIBLIOGRAPHY, INDEX

Russia had been one of the greatest success stories of the capitalist world in the decade leading up to World War I. War and wartime inflation undermined the government's legitimacy, however, and led to power falling into the hands of increasingly radical elements, ending up with Lenin. The Bolshevik takeover led to the near paralysis of the Russian economy. In the midst of the world's largest forest, the Bolsheviks were soon running out of paper to print their decrees, propaganda, and currency. What did they have to sell to buy imported weapons to help them stay in power? In a powerful and surprising new book, HISTORY'S GREATEST HEIST: THE LOOTING OF RUSSIA BY THE BOLSHEVIKS, author Sean McMeekin makes a powerful and surprising argument that Lenin and his followers imposed a policy of looting the national treasures that Russia had amassed over the centuries. Those treasures consisted of gold, silver, and precious jewelry on a massive scale. This didn't prove as immediately successful as the Bolshevik braintrust had hoped. For example, "inventory shrinkage" proved a problem. When Lenin and Trotsky called for mobs to sack the local landowners, bourgeois households, and churches and send the loot to Moscow, the amount received wasn't as lucrative as expected. Rather a large percentage seemed to stick to the fingers of local Bolshevik operatives. The author shows in this formidably documented, morally impassioned book that the Bolsheviks could have never survived their first years in power without the cooperation of Western governments, industrialists, and financiers.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Jimmy Porter on February 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author has researched and written a book that covers the gap between the Tsarist downfall through to the downfall of Bolshevik rebels. The rape of the culture of Old Russia will make you sick when you see how the gold, jewels. paintings and religious objects are stolen by these "friends of the People," what they do with it, and how it turns out. It made me very sorrowful and revengeful for the actions of these robbers. It also points out what a lax citizenship will allow a small band of violent and active rebels, including destroying your country, your culture, your person. This was a well written book, placing some of the then current world leaders at the same greedy trough as the Russian rapists, The Bolsheviks!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Debby Cradick on March 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is full of details as far as amounts, type, comparison to today, names, places, etc. Well researched, well written. It's actually quite frighting to see how easy it was for the Bolsheviks to do business with the rest of the world. It's also quite eye opening to realize how a government can say one thing, while their foreign offices can manipulate an official standing to make it mean whatever they need it to mean. I had no idea how much business Sweden and Germany did with the Bolsheviks, both before and after the revolution. Shame on Sweden and Germany, shame on England for being so quick to do business with this evil entity, the Bolsheviks. Shame on the world for turning a blind eye to the atrocities in Russia, and further shame on the rest of the world for their greed in buying up stolen belongings. A real eye opener with stunning detail.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dalton C. Rocha on November 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Here in Brazil, I read this good book.
This book has these main great qualities:
1- About the massive robbering of "Soviet" people by the Marxists and dooming of a first class economy, this book is great.
2- This book clear shows how developed and rich was Russian under tzardom. And how genocidal and failured was Bolshvism.
3- We see how bankers were ever looking for to be friends of Marxists, if they became rich with this process.
4- The main use of gold, platinum, art,etc. robbed by the Bolshevists was to buy weapons and use these weapons later to enslave and exterminate Russian, Ucranians, etc. later.
5- The fact that Sweden and Baltic states were helping Lenin's tyranny is clearly showed, in this book.
6- The imbecility of England's premier David Lloyd George(1863 - 1945) in supporting Bolshevism and dooming the British Empire, in exchange of Bolshevik's orders of weapons, executive aircraft, Limousines,etc. is clearly showed in this book.
7- The fact that Marxists such as Lenin, Trotsky, etc. were in limousines, mansions, ec. while "Soviet" people was dyeing of famine is remembered in this book.

*********************
There's some problems in this book that lead me to give four stars for it:
1- About Lenin's syphillis that made Lenin completely mad, years before the Russian Revolution and later killed that mad tyrant, there's nothing in this book.
2- About the fact that massive amount of Soviet Union's money went to support Nazi Party, there's nothing in this book. This book remembers that Kurt von Schleicher 1882 - 1934) was a Soviet agent and gave Germany's power to Hitler in 1933, creating the Third Reich.
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