He Lived With Death
The Story of St. 25." By Sir Paul Dukes, K.B.E. (Cassell, 15s.).
Reviewed by 0. BENNIGSEN Because of the author's inside knowledge of Russia, her language and people, the Secret Intelligence Service entrusted him with a highly responsible and dangerous mission in 1918. He was to enter Russia under an assumed name in order to keep the British Government informed upon the trend of events in that country under Bolshevik rule. The book is a record of eventful months spent in Petrograd under various disguises, ever in danger of betrayal and exposure.
Sir Paul's perilous adventures and hairbreath escapes read like a first-rate detective story, but they are all the more exciting since the happenings are facts, stranger than any fiction, and may be checked by the writings of others who shared some of these adventures and escapes.
The author's resourcefulness and coolheadedness rescued him from many a tight corner—once he befooled the chekists who were searching for him by simulating epilepsy; on another occasion he was the tenant of a forgotten old tomb in a disused cemetery. But this macabre shelter compared more than favourably with the students' hostel which was his next billet!
Sir Paul gives a vivid and terrifying picture of the early days of Lenin's dictatorship —indeed, he has been so deeply influenced by the horrors of those months as to imagine that present-day conditions in the U.S.S.R. cannot but mark an improvement upon 1918-19. We believe his optimism to be mistaken—and this is our only criticism of a book which otherwise deserves every commendation.