Born in Warsaw he was the son of a low-ranking army officer. Skill and relentless ambition saw him tread a remarkable path away from his humble origins. He was educated at the Kiev Military School and the Academy of the General Staff. He first saw active service during the Russo-Japanese War.
In August 1914 Denikin was a Major-General and commander of the Kiev military district. He joined the Eighth Army, initially a Deputy Chief of Staff in September he was sent to Galicia to command the 4th Rifle Brigade.
In 1916 he was appointed to command VIII Corps and directed action in Romania during the last serious Russian assault of the war, the Brusilov offensive. Following the February Revolution he was Chief of Staff to Mikhail Vasilevich Alekseev, then Aleksei Alekseyevich Brusilov and finally Lavr Georgevich Kornilov. Denikin supported the attempted coup of his commander, the Kornilov Affair, in September 1917 and was arrested and imprisoned with him. Alekseev was re-appointed commander-in-Chief
Following the October Revolution both Denikin and Kornilov escaped. They fled to Novocherkassk in southern Russia to meet up with other Tsarist officers and form the Volunteer Army, initially commanded by Alekseev.
Kornilov was killed in April 1918 near Ekaterinodar and the Volunteer Army came to be commanded by Denikin. In the face of a Communist counter-offensive he withdrew his forces back towards the Don area. He led one final assault of the southern White forces - an audacious attmept to capture Moscow in the summer of 1919. Over stretched his army was decisively defeated at Orel in October, some 400km south of Moscow. The White forces in southern Russia were in constant retreat from then, reaching the Crimea in March 1920.
Denikin resigned his post in April in favour of Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel and went into exile in France and from 1945 in the USA. He published two books The Career of a Tsarist Officer: Memoirs, 1872-1916 and The Russian Turmoil.
He died in Ann Arbor in 1947.