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A Concise History of the Russian Revolution Hardcover – October 10, 1995

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 431 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (October 10, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679422773
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679422778
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,738,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harvard historian Pipes emphasizes that the Russian Revolution of October 1917 was actually a coup d'etat, a seizing of power by a tightly organized conspiracy, carried out with a show of mass participation but with almost no mass involvement. By synthesizing and condensing his two recent books?The Russian Revolution (1990) and Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime (1994)?into a superb narrative augmented with scores of photographs and maps, he has produced the single most readable, useful and illuminating chronicle of the revolution and its aftermath. Lenin, authoritarian, fanatical, secretive and intolerant, ordered the construction of concentration camps in 1918. Pipes shows how Lenin's one-party police state paved the way for Stalin by throttling democratic impulses and through unremitting terror and expropriations. Chapters cover the civil war, which crushed antimonarchist democrats ("Whites"); the Bolsheviks' annihilation of politically active peasants ("kulaks") despite massive peasant revolts; the murder of the imperial family; the Soviets' subjugation of ethnic groups and nationalities; and the war against religion. Pipes's remarkably vivid, compelling narrative turns up fresh insights on every page.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Pipes (history, Harvard Univ.) has condensed his two-volume opus, The Russian Revolution (LJ 11/1/90) and Russia Under the Bolsheviks (LJ 3/15/94), into a single readable volume. Forcefully showing why the 70-year-old Communist experiment failed, he provides the nonacademic reader with accurate historical events in a highly readable format. Only a minor flaw in the fourth chapter, where he fails to explain who the Mensheviks were until 30 pages later in the next chapter, mars this excellent book. The approach parallels Dominic Lieven's contemporary volume Nicholas II (LJ 1/94) but is better organized and more complete. The last chapter does a fine job of summing up the revolution and adds a curious comparison between Bolshevik and Tsarist Russia. Ultimately, Pipes shows how the seeds of destruction of communism were planted at its inception in 1917. Recommended for public, academic, and school libraries.?Harry Willems, Kansas Lib. System, Iola
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
I'm a history student in my fourth year honours(with my major in Russia) and this book was the text book for my fourth year honours class. It is a great book because Pipes gives a summary of his previous 3 books "Russia Under the Old Regime", "The Russian Revolution" and "Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime". It is the equivalent to buy 3 books in one. The novelty of the book is that if the reader is interested in reading a relative short book about Russian history, this is the best book for that. However if one is interested in further details, I recommend people to read any of the 3 books summarized here in details. Pipes proves with enough arguments the gangster character of Lenin and his ambition for power. As Pipes argues, 'power' was the only ideology of the Bolshevik Party. The first part of the book provides a good background of the origins of 'autocracy' in the Old Regime. The last chapter gives the reader details about other aspects of the Bolsheviks after they achieved power, including among others 'the chapter on culture'. The chapters 'The October Coup' (here Pipes proves with details that in October 1917 a coup d'état took place and not a revolution), 'The Red Terror' (proves that it was through killing nearly a million people that Bolsheviks stayed in power) and the chapter on Lenin are of course the worst nightmare for communists around the world. I one word I have to say that Pipes' books are the 'bible' of Russian history. My deepest admiration to Dr Pipes.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 15, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Pipes is one of the great scholars of Russia and the Soviet Union. He has written at length on the origin and events of the revolution that led to the founding of the USSR. Only someone with his deep knowledge of the material and his skill at writing could pull off such a brilliant telling of these important, and tragic, historical events in only 400 pages.
The book is divided into three sections. The first is called "The Agony of the Old Regime" and provides a snapshot of the way Russia was governed and the lives of its citizens and peasants in 1900. It also discusses its experiments in constitutional government and the crisis of the First World War and the February Revolution.
The second part is entitled "The Bolsheviks Conquer Russia" and tells us about Lenin, the October Coup, and the building of the terror state.
Part three is called "Russia under the Bolshevik Regime" and discusses the Civil War, the building of the mechanisms to export communism and revolution to the rest of the world, the crisis of Lenin's stroke and the positioning for power by Stalin and then Lenin's death. The chapter on "Reflections on the Russian Revolution is very valuable. There is a list of suggested further readings and the book has many well-chosen pictures.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
I wanted to understand just how the 300 year reign of Tsarist Russia ended and transformed into the Communist regime that dominated that land for 70 years.

After looking at the books available on this topic, I chose A Richard Pipe's Concise History of the Russian Revolution to answer my questions. It proved to be an excellent choice.

Don't let the word Concise in the title fool you. It is not concise in that it is short or brief. All the details are here to present a well fleshed out picture of the tumultuous events of 1917.

The necessary background of Nicholas II and Alexandra is presented. The moves of Lenin and his supporting cast are provided in detail. One also learns that the foundations murderous regime of Stalin were all put into place and utilized by Lenin himself.

The book ends with Lenin's death, and provides a glimple into Stalin and how he came to succeed Lenin.

Pipe's work is a very worthwhile work. For reading only one book on this subject, I have yet to have come across one that would better replace it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Antonis on December 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book has a strong advantage and a disadvantage.
The advantage is that it is written by an expert in the field, Richard Pipes, who spent most of his life researching and writing about Russian history. The man is an outstanding historian.
In addition, the book is written based on never before seen archive files from the Soviet Union archives which were made available only since 1991, the year the regime collapsed. When it comes to the Russian Revolution, pre-1991 books are outdated, while Pipes' book is fresh, well-researched and reliable.
The disadvantage is that the author is, as other people noted, biased. He hates Bolshevism and Communism, which is something that the reader will come to realise pretty soon in the book. However, I do not find this as a particular issue. Pipes is still a recognised expert, and there is a clear distinction between opinion and fact when you read his book.
The reactions of people against the historian's opinions, I believe, is rooted more in the intolerance of people sympathetic to communist ideas to accept the finally relieved reality of the regime that was once called the "worker's paradise", rather than a real problem concerning the history Pipes writes. After all, I do not expect to find many historians sympathetic to the Bolsheviks, as I do not expect to find many historians sympathetic to the Nazis.
A Concise History of the Russian Revolution is an outstanding summary of the events that changed the world, and I would suggest it to anyone interested in the Russian Revolution.
But if you are really concerned about the supposed bias of the writer, I would advice "A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891-1924", a longer and more detailed work by Orlando Figes, based again on the newly-discovered Soviet Archives.
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