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Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography, 1888-1938 Paperback – February 7, 1980

ISBN-13: 000-0195026977 ISBN-10: 0195026977

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 7, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195026977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195026979
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 5.4 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #504,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The only significant book on the earlier Soviet experience not trapped in simplistic Cold War categories. Crucial for advanced undergraduates."--Arthur Williamson, California State University at Sacramento

"This magnificent book will come to be regarded by those whose opinions are worth listening to as one of the two or three really outstanding studies in the history of the Soviet Union of the past 25 years."--Leonard Schapiro, The New York Review of Books

"The best book on the USSR to be published for many years."--Alec Nove, Soviet Studies

"Cohen has not only written the most significant of the recent biographies of early Soviet leaders, but he has also posed questions about Soviet history which will be central in the discussion in coming years, perhaps decades."--The Russian Review

"Bukharin has at last found full-length vindication in Professor Cohen's distinguished biography, undoubtedly one of the most important books on Soviet politics to appear in recent years."--Political Science Quarterly

About the Author

Stephen F. Cohen is at Princeton University.

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Customer Reviews

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For anyone with historical interest in Soviet thinking, politics and history, this is a great read.
Guinevere Nell
It's interesting to think of how that experiment might have fared under rational, compassionate leadership.
Ed Gehead
The author views Bukharin as the most "liberal" of the Bolsheviks and as a possible alternative to Stalin.
Howard J. Herskovitz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Guinevere Nell on January 15, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fascinating. For anyone with historical interest in Soviet thinking, politics and history, this is a great read. My only complaint is that while it went into some depth on Bukharin's Marxist economic ideas, it didn't follow up with detail on actual economic policy after the revolution - probably because Bukharin wasn't intimately involved with those policies. To be more clear, it did go into detail on political questions of economic policy, but not on the nitty gritty of planning per se. If you have interest in the politics, policies, theory and inner workings of the Bolshevik leadership, the men who fought with Lenin to gain power and worked with Stalin to keep it, this is the book for you. Obviously centered on Bukharin, this book provides insight outside of just him; it is not a personal biographical work, its a political biography, as it claims, meaning that it focuses on his ideas, policies and politics.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
In this excellent "political biography," Stephen Cohen uses Nikolai Bukharin's life as revolutionary to critically examine the experience of the Bolsheviks in gaining and exercising power in what became the Soviet Union. Cohen explicitly pursues 2 major themes and implicitly pursues a third major theme. The explicit major themes are the relative heterorgeneity of the Bolsheviks, and in particular, the idea the Bukharin's economic and political policies posed a major alternative to the Stalinist revolution from above. The implicit important theme is the close relationship between Bukharin's development of Marxist ideology and the policies he advocated.

Bukharin turns out to be a fairly attractive character, and not just by comparison with the horrifying Stalin. Highly intelligent, well- (though largely self-) educated, articulate, relatively humane and open-minded, Bukharin was an engaged intellectual and probably the most popular of the Bolsheviks who made the Russian Revolution. He was also, as shown by his conduct during the Purge trial that resulted in his execution, personally courageous. Cohen is careful to show Bukharin's significant flaws. Bukharin was no liberal democrat, was dedicated to the idea of the Communist Party as a revolutionary vanguard controlling the state, and could be ruthless towards opponents.

Bukharin attempted throughout his life to extend Marxism in ways that responded accurately to the conditions of his time and was receptive to a variety of intellectual currents. In exile in the years leading up the Revolution, he lived in variety of Western states, including a brief stay in the USA. While living in Vienna, he attended lectures of prominent Austrian school economists like Wieser who very critical of Marx.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ed Gehead on January 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a biography of a young communist, Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin, who was the presumed heir to Lenin. Arguably his leadership would have resulted in an entirely different USSR had Stalin not ruthlessly seized power and purged his competitors, including the young, charismatic Bukharin. Bukharin was close to Lenin and was one of his principal supporters in the 1920s when Lenin backed off from collectivization of farms and businesses after it became obvious that it was hurting the economy and causing undue hardship. This "backing off", which allowed private farming and business to resume, was entitled the New Economic Policy or NEP. The economy began to prosper again but then Lenin suffered an untimely stroke that impaired his ability to lead and prompted Stalin to oust Trotsky and gradually purge all of the remaining leadership. Bukharin was one of the last to go, sentenced to death on bogus charges following a show trial in 1937. We know the tragic results of Stalin's brutal leadership. It led to the unnecessary death and imprisonment of countless millions of USSR citizens. Bukharin is an interesting historical figure because he was a revolutionary communist but, unlike Stalin, he was compassionate and a realist. His principal fault was his trust in Stalin and failure to capitalize on his own popularity. It seems clear that his leadership would have taken the USSR in a substantially different direction. Communism as a political and economic system has now been rejected in large part because of the failure of its experimentation in the USSR and its satellite nations. It's interesting to think of how that experiment might have fared under rational, compassionate leadership. Bukharin was a strong believer in Marxism, as were many intellectuals in the 20s-40s.Read more ›
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