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Experiencing Russia's Civil War: Politics, Society, and Revolutionary Culture in Saratov, 1917-1922 Paperback – November 17, 2002

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Experiencing Russia's Civil War: Politics, Society, and Revolutionary Culture in Saratov, 1917-1922 + Death and Redemption: The Gulag and the Shaping of Soviet Society + Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (November 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691113203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691113203
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,061,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"By revealing the complexity of the civil war in one province, Raleigh's book will revitalize scholarly debate on the civil war."--S. A. Smith, Slavic Review

"An excellent work that will become required reading for all students of this turbulent period in twentieth-century history."--Jack M. Lauber, History: Review of Books

"This book makes an outstanding contribution to scholarship through its exhaustive and shrewd examination of new archival materials. It also makes imaginative and original use of language and ideology as tools of historical interpretation."--N.G.O. Pereira, American Historical Review

"Very readable and convincingly argued, this book is a much needed and anticipated revelation of local experience of the Civil War. This jewel of Soviet studies is not to be missed by any student or scholar of the Soviet Union."--Irina Mukhina, Journal of Social History

From the Inside Flap

"Experiencing Russia's Civil War is a comprehensive political, social, economic, and cultural history of the key Volga city of Saratov during the Russian Civil War. Its great virtue lies in its extraordinary breadth and depth. It is difficult to exaggerate its significance to historiography on the civil war era in Russia and to informed thinking about the Soviet experience generally."--Alexander Rabinowitch, author of The Bolsheviks Come to Power and Prelude to Revolution

"This work will be the first of its kind on the Russian civil war. It is based on prodigious research using archival sources that were utterly off limits to scholars before 1990, from a city that was itself closed to foreigners. It is the first to take seriously the application of the 'cultural turn' to the history of the Russian revolution. Last but no less important, it will be the first comprehensive local study of the civil war. Raleigh has shown the rest of us how it should be done."--Diane P. Koenker, author of Moscow Workers and the 1917 Revolution and coauthor of Strikes and Revolution in Russia, 1917

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. L. Huff on March 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
Professor Raleigh follows up his case study of Saratov Province, "Revolution on the Volga," with this overview of Saratov in civil war. Here he follows the Vladimir Brovkin school, which sees the Bolsheviks as an isolated minority clinging to power only through terror. This harks back to the cold war-totalitarian school of Merle Fainsod and Robert Conquest, and in so doing offers no new insights or concepts.

That said, the book offers an interesting slice of Russian provincial life of the period. Professor Raleigh portrays the struggles between soviets and the Bolshevik Party, between higher and lower organs of each, the opposition to Bolshevism from all classes of society, etc. Surely he is right when he says the Bolsheviks, in putting the state above the governed, carried on Russian tradition rather than breaking with it; and that democratic socialism would have been a more complete social revolution than the regime which in fact took shape after 1917.

But one must ask: where would such a regime have come from? However socially isolated the Bolsheviks were, their opposites - the White/Kadet alliance - had an equally shallow mandate. The "democratic socialists" blew their chance in vainly seeking coalition with the right, and by deliberately postponing elections to buy time that was already running out. The Bolsheviks were the only party determined to create a new regime, and by splitting off factions of other parties as allies guaranteed their control of the new state taking shape.

In the end, as Professor Raleigh shows, it was military and police power - the Red Army and the Cheka - that kept the Bolsheviks in place, not the "soviet power" of workers and peasants.
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