Few Americans who were not alive at the time know anything about our “unknown war with Russia,” to quote the title of Robert Maddox’s book on this fiasco. Not one of the twelve American history textbooks in my original sample even mentioned it. Two of the six new books do; Boorstin and Kelley, for example, write: “The United States, hoping to keep stores of munitions from falling into German hands when Bolshevik Russia quit fighting, contributed some 5,000 troops to an Allied invasion of northern Russia at Archangel. Wilson likewise sent nearly 10,000 troops to Siberia as part of an Allied expedition.” It is possible, although surely difficult, for an American student to infer from that passage that Wilson was intervening in Russia’s civil war.
Russian textbooks, on the other hand, give the episode considerable coverage. According to Maddox: “The immediate effect of the intervention was to prolong a bloody civil war, thereby costing thousands of additional lives and wreaking enormous destruction on an already battered society. And there were longer-range implications. Bolshevik leaders had clear proof… that the Western powers meant to destroy the Soviet government if given the chance.”
This aggression fueled the suspicions that motivated the Soviets during the Cold War, and until its breakup the Soviet Union continued to claim damages from the invasion.
—James W Loewen
Lies My Teacher Told Me