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From the Other Shore: Russian Social Democracy after 1921 (Harvard Historical Studies) Hardcover – June 29, 1997

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Editorial Reviews


[An] important new book...From the Other Shore raises the question of what would have happened if the Mensheviks had prevailed in 1917. Would they have gone the route of the Bolsheviks, laying the groundwork for the repressive totalitarianism to follow? Or would they have found another path committing themselves to a radical transformation of Russian society while at the same time...respecting the political liberties of their opponents?...Although Liebich identifies closely with Martov's group, he avoids the temptation of reading back into its history an early and absolute division from the Bolsheviks...Liebich asks us to see the Mensheviks as something more than political losers. They stand, he writes, 'at the very heart of the crisis of Marxism.' Our judgment of them as political actors and thinkers--as a possible alternative leadership for a revolutionary Russia--can help determine whether Marxism has any legitimate claim as a serious and honorable political tradition or deserves nothing better than its current consignment to the dustbin of history. (Maurice Isserman New York Times Book Review)

This book is a tremendous piece of scholarship, charting the evolution of the Russian Menshevik leaders during 40 years of exile and their influence within the wider social-democratic parties, especially in Germany and Austria…for uncovering the extent of their influence and the significance of their analyses, Professor Liebich deserves our gratitude. (Paul Hampton Workers' Liberty)

While the Bolsheviks have long had books--even libraries--devoted to them, the Mensheviks have had to wait until now for a first-rate account of their work and fate. André Liebich...has finally done justice to a group which history had dealt with unjustly. (Theodore Draper New York Review of Books)

From the Publisher

Winner of the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History of the Wiener Library, London --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Harvard Historical Studies (Book 125)
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (May 30, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674325176
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674325173
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,547,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gary Kern on January 28, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every now and then you read a book that is exceptionally scholarly, thoroughly academic and more than a little pedantic, and you find yourself enthralled by the subject, invigorated by the presentation and uplifted by the uncommon knowledge you are gaining. Such is the experience of reading Andre Liebich's deeply researched and concisely narrated history of the Russian Social Democrats, FROM THE OTHER SHORE. You may come to the book with the usual assumption that the SDs, better known as the Mensheviks, were just another political party that lost to the Bolsheviks in the 1917 struggle for power in Russia, and you will leave with the suspicion that they constitute the more lasting legacy from that world upheaval and may once again have their say.

Liebich reveals just how principled they were. As Marxists, they did not side with the Whites against the Bolsheviks after the October coup d'etat, but rather offered a loyal opposition, intending by their commentary and criticism, often severe, to moderate Soviet policy and to keep it from devolving into absolute tyranny, which they feared would discredit the idea of a proletarian revolution altogether.
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