May 01, 2015

A Dangerous Woman and a Soviet Kid

Moura Ignatievna Budberg (born Zakrevskaya) was, above all things, a survivor. Born to nobility, she survived the Revolution, dispossession, Lubyanka imprisonment, accessory involvement in a plot to bring down the Bolsheviks, and a long period of exile.

She survived largely thanks to her astoundingly magnetic, charismatic character, apparently working as a double agent for the Soviets and the British, falling in love with the flamboyant spy Bruce Lockhart, living as Maxim Gorky’s common law wife for over a decade, and then as mistress to H.G. Wells. She finally died in 1974, in England. He great-great grandnephew, Nick Clegg, is currently deputy prime minister of England.

It is an astoundingly unbelievable life well retold in this gripping new biography. Well-written too. The book’s account of the Lockhart Affair is particularly fascinating, recreating the paranoid, anti-Western world that was Soviet Russia in the late 19-teens and early 1920s.

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