A special correspondent of The New York Times, Carl W. Ackerman traveled from Vladivostok to Irkutsk to Omsk to Ekaterinburg in the fall of 1918 in the midst of the Russian Civil War. He met with officers of the American and Japanese expeditionary forces, with members of the Czecho-Slovak corps fighting the Red Army, with ministers of the democratic Russian government in Omsk, and with military dictator Admiral Alexander Kolchak, who became the ruler of anti-Bolshevik Russia after a coup that displaced the Democrats. In fact, Ackerman was the first foreign journalist who visited the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, the place of Tsar Nicholas II and his family’s imprisonment until they were murdered in July 1918.
With his notes and newspaper articles to consult, Ackerman wrote Trailing the Bolsheviki soon after his return to the United States. His book was one of the very first American accounts of the Russian Civil War in Siberia and the Far East, providing his readers with the wealth of his observation and the entertainment of his travel feats. Moreover, Ackerman was among the first Americans to notice the basic split between the new political system materializing in Russia and the universalism of the Woodrow Wilson approach. Thus, he became one of the proponents of the first Red Scare and an early forerunner of the Cold War.