By Michael Futrell
Before 1917 the Russians living in Western Europe had been actively working against the Tsarist regime for sixty years. They carried on secret correspondence, smuggled in revolutionary propaganda and made daring attempts to deliver arms to their comrades, working through Scandinavia and Finland. It is an exciting story, dealing with a number of most extraordinary personalities.
It covers Bakunin's venture in the sixties, the attempt made by Zilliacus (the Finnish nationalist and father of the present English politician) to smuggle arms into Russia to assist the revolution of 1905, and the adventures of the Bolshevik Alexander Shlyapnikov during the First World War. Dr. Futrell's evaluation of the contacts between the Bolshevik Party and the Germans during 1914-17 is of special interest, and includes remarkable new material discovered in Scandinavia.
The unfolding of this story in Northern Underground is the result of an immense amount of research. The author is a university lecturer in Russian who is equally interested in the Scandinavian countries and Finland, and he knows Northern Europe well from Arctic Lapland to cosmopolitan Copenhagen. He has not only worked in libraries and archives, but also tracked down many of the survivors of the northern underground, and these searches led to his personal acquaintance with some of them, such as the astonishing Alexander Kesküla, the man who says: 'Lenin was my protégé ... it was I who launched Lenin.'