Title: Memoirs of a British Agent
Author: Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart
Lockhart, Robert Hamilton Bruce (1932, 1974). Memoirs of a British Agent: Being an Account of the Author’s Early Life in Many Lands and His Official Mission to Moscow in 1918. London: Macmillan
- Lockhart, Robert Hamilton Bruce, 1887-1970.
- World War, 1914-1918–Soviet Union.
- Communism–Soviet Union.
- Great Britain–Foreign relations–Soviet Union.
- Soviet Union–Foreign relations–Great Britain.
Date Updated: March 1, 2016
The British worked with a number of secret agents in Russia, trying to get those who resisted the communist regime to marshal their forces to overthrow Lenin. The adventures of these agents created some of the classic romantic tales of spycraft in the twentieth century.
As an example, Memoirs of a British Agent when first published in 1932, achieved bestseller status, both in the United States and in Great Britain. R.H. Lockhart’s account of the years he spent representing Britain’s Foreign Office in Russia is still immensely entertaining and informative today. Lockhart was not an espionage agent; he was a diplomat. He was Britain’s Vice-Consul in Moscow, then Acting Consul-General, then official “unofficial” representative to the new Bolshevik regime in Russia, between the years 1912 and 1918.
Lockhart describes his attempts at rubber farming as a young man in Malaysia and the circumstances that led to his seeking a career in the Foreign Office. He was given the post of British Vice-Consul in Moscow shortly after joining the Service. In these memoirs, Lockhart gives us his insights into Russian culture and politics during the last years of Tsarist rule, the circumstances of Russia’s participation in WWI, and Russia’s descent into Bolshevism.
Lockhart came to love the Russian people and consider Moscow his home while he witnessed the last Tsar unwittingly ensure his own downfall and the succeeding provisional government inevitably fail. He gives an honest account of the errors in British and Allied policies during these precarious years in Russia. We get a close-up view of the eternal rift between diplomatic knowledge and political imperative. And we witness history repeating itself when foreign policies are adopted for political, not logical, reasons, and so inevitably fail. Memoirs of a British Agent is a supremely literate and insightful first-hand account of the fascinating and turbulent time in Russia that gave birth to the Soviet Union through the eyes of a foreigner who knew many prominent members of both the Tsarist and Bolshevik regimes personally. Lockhart manages to convey great sympathy for Russians of various ideologies while at the same time speaking bluntly of their shortcomings.