The Russians are coming

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The Russians are coming is a phrase attributed to United States Secretary of Defense James Forrestal in 1949. In full, Forrestal said "The Russians are coming. The Russians are coming. They’re right around. I’ve seen Russian soldiers."

Forrestal allegedly uttered those words while suffering from mental illness, not long before purportedly committing suicide. The allegation originated with Forrestal's bitter political enemy, columnist Drew Pearson, and has been verified by no other person. This is what Townsend Hoopes and Douglas Brinkley have to say about the episode in their 1992 book, Driven Patriot, the Life and Times of James Forrestal:

Pearson had, in fact, decided to fire his heaviest ammunition in a radio broadcast on April 9. He charged that Forrestal, awakened by the sound of a fire siren (on the night of April 1 at Hobe Sound), had rushed out of his cottage screaming, “The Russians are attacking.” He defined Forrestal’s condition as “temporary insanity.” In subsequent newspaper columns he asserted that Forrestal made three suicide attempts while in Florida – by drug overdose, by hanging, and by slashing his wrists. According to a later statement by [Navy psychiatrist Captain George] Raines, all of these assertions were lies.
– pp. 455–456.

Uses of the phrase[edit]

  • The title of a song by Val Bennett. (which was itself a reggae version of Paul Desmond's classic jazz song Take Five)
  • The title of the movie The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming was inspired by this phrase.
  • The title of a 2007 documentary The Russians Are Coming!!! – five of Russia's most promising young television reporters took a journalistic tour of small towns across the United States.[1]
  • The Russians Are Coming, the last episode of the first series of TV comedy Only Fools and Horses.
  • The title of a book by Irish businessman Denis Sugrue, who in 2005 was arrested in the US and falsely accused of being a spy.[2][3]
  • The Russians Are Coming!, title of a fiction novel by English writer Erik Gustafson.[4]
  • The title of a fiction novel about Russian immigrants by Russian Canadian writer Lily Alex.[5][6]
  • The title of a composition by Robert Volkmann.
  • An allusion to the phrase is made in the film The Spy Next Door.
  • In AOE III, the 12th cut-scene of Act II in single player campaign is titled The Russians Are Coming


  1. ^ The Russians Are Coming!!! (2007) Downtown Community Television Centre, Retrieved 7 June 2015
  2. ^ "Limerickman falsely accused of being a 'KGB spy reveals all about his ordeal" Limerick Leader, 10 September 2010. Retrieved 7 June 2015
  3. ^ Denis Sugrue, The Russians are Coming Hexhibit (2010) ISBN 9789967257924. Retrieved 7 June 2015 – via GoogleBooks
  4. ^ Erik Gustafson, The Russians Are Coming! Lulu Press, Inc (July 2014) ISBN 9781291800678. Retrieved 7 June 2015 – via GoogleBooks
  5. ^ Lily Alex, The Russians are coming! / 14 Months in the Life of the Town CreateSpace (January 2012) . ISBN 9781468125955. Retrieved 7 June 2015 – via
  6. ^ Lily Alex, The Russians are coming! / 14 Months in the Life of the Town PublishAmerica (2002) ISBN 1591294584. Retrieved 7 June 2015 – via GoogleBooks