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Russian Roulette by Giles Milton (BA 1989)

23 May 2013

He wore a khaki cap and tattered clothes and looked the very picture of a Russian revolutionary activist. But Joseph Ilitch Afirenko was neither Russian nor a revolutionary activist. He was Paul Dukes, one of a group of spies on an undercover mission of vital importance.

He wore a khaki cap and tattered clothes and looked the very picture of a Russian revolutionary activist.

But Joseph Ilitch Afirenko was neither Russian nor a revolutionary activist. He was Paul Dukes, one of a group of spies on an undercover mission of vital importance.

Their mission was to prevent Lenin from destroying British India, the first stage in a plot to bring down the democracies of the West. Lenin believed that if Britain lost India then a revolution in the motherland would follow and would spark a wave of revolutions across the West causing a collapse of all the great democracies.

His plan was to unite his Bolshevik revolutionaries with the Islamic jihadis of Central Asia thereby unleashing a deadly force.

As Lenin began bankrolling his ‘Army of God’, British Ministers turned to Mansfield Cumming, the monocled, one-legged, eccentric head of the fledgling Secret Intelligence Service. Cumming was to orchestrate an operation that would wreck Lenin’s plot from the inside. Thus began a highly dangerous game of Russian Roulette.

Cumming’s spies set to work with Machiavellian deviousness in order to penetrate the heart of the Soviet regime. They were to play a pivotal role in thwarting Lenin’s plan for global domination and their work was also to have an unexpected consequence, one that continues to influence our lives today.

Giles Milton (BA1989) is a best-selling author and journalist. He has published seven non-fiction books including White Gold and Nathaniel’s Nutmeg and two novels. In the UK, Russian Roulette will be available for purchase in August 2013.