From Library Journal
In 1916, the Russian government sent two brigades of infantry to fight by the side of the French. After much difficulty, the two brigades fought effectively in the Nivelle offensive. However, they soon began to reflect the deteriorating conditions in Russia. Eventually, elements of both brigades mutinied (at roughly the same time as the French Army was doing so), and the entire force was quarantined. The two units battled each other at La Courtine and were eventually combined into the Russian Legion of Honor. The 1917 revolution nearly destroyed the force, but, like Russia itself, it survived and was eventually repatriated in 1920. Cockfield (Russian history, Mercer Univ.) is sometimes difficult to follow, and his many archival sources are often uncertain about names and dates, but the story that emerges will absorb students of the Great War and the two countries. Recommended for subject collections.?Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
As the trench warfare on the western front intensified, French manpower shortages became acute; meanwhile, in the East, the Russians had plenty of human fodder for the meat grinder, but their primitive economy could not keep a modern army supplied with food, firearms, or munitions. Thus, in 1916, a deal was struck; in return for supplies, Russia sent two brigades to fight in France. The fate of these men, many of them illiterate peasants, is the subject of this beautifully written examination of an obscure but tragic piece of the Great War. When the Russian Revolution broke out in 1917, the Russian brigades split along ideological lines and actually fought battles among themselves in southern France; in effect, they became a microcosm for the larger struggle unfolding in their homeland thousands of miles away. Cockfield, professor of Russian history at Mercer College in Georgia, describes the ultimate fate of these hapless pawns with eloquence, compassion, and analytical skill. Jay Freeman