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History of the Russian Revolution

23 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1931859455
ISBN-10: 1931859450
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Editorial Reviews


"Trotsky's History is a monumental work." --Studies in East European Thought --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Leon Trotsky was a leader of the Russian revolution in 1917 and is the author of My Life, The History of the Russian Revolution, and The Revolution Betrayed. Ahmed Shawki is the editor of the International Socialist Review.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 1040 pages
  • Publisher: Haymarket Books (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931859450
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931859455
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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64 of 71 people found the following review helpful By D. Morrow on April 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
In spite of its length, I've read this book several times. It isn't just a widely acclaimed historic and literary masterpiece, written by a leading participant in the events he describes. It isn't just vividly written and thoroughly researched.

More importantly, it's one of the best books ever written about revolution, as relevant today as ever.

The most important conclusion that emerges is the crucial role of a revolutionary party with an overwhelmingly working class membership, leadership and political orientation: a party that has trained itself in the many years of partial struggles that precede a revolutionary crisis; studied together the lessons of past revolutionary struggles throughout the world; and done everything possible to educate broader layers of workers in those lessons.

(The point is illustrated both positively and negatively. More than once, Lenin had to turn to the Bolshevik's working class rank and file against wavering intellectuals in the party leadership.)

Please don't be put off by the first chapter, the driest and most difficult in the book. The basic idea is that capitalism arrived late in Russia, imported from abroad in the form of huge factories, which laid the basis for the rapid development of a strong, militant labor movement. As a result, the emerging capitalist class was reluctant to mobilize the masses against the feudal nobles and landlords that stood in their way, for fear that the aroused workers might turn on the capitalists themselves.

Under the impact of war and economic crisis, the resulting mixture of different forms of class oppression exploded in a combined revolt of workers, farmers, and oppressed nationalities, destroying both feudalism and capitalism by the time it was through.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Alfred Johnson on January 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Leon Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution is partisan history at its best. One does not and should not, at least in this day in age, ask historians to be `objective'. One simply asks that the historian present his or her narrative and analysis and get out of the way. Trotsky meets that criterion. Furthermore, in Trotsky's case there is nothing like having a central actor in that drama, who can also write brilliantly and wittily, give his interpretation of the important events and undercurrents swirling around Russia in 1917. If you are looking for a general history of the revolution or want an analysis of what the revolution meant for the fate of various nations after World War I or its affect on world geopolitics look elsewhere. E.H. Carr's History of the Russian Revolution offers an excellent multi-volume set that tells that story through the 1920's. Or if you want to know what the various parliamentary leaders, both bourgeois and Soviet, were thinking and doing from a moderately leftist viewpoint read Sukhanov's Notes on the Russian Revolution. For a more journalistic account John Reed's classic Ten Days That Shook the World is invaluable. Trotsky covers some of this material as well. However, if additionally, you want to get a feel for the molecular process of the Russian Revolution in its ebbs and flows down at the base in the masses where the revolution was made Trotsky's is the book for you.

The life of Leon Trotsky is intimately intertwined with the rise and decline of the Russian Revolution in the first part of the 20th century. As a young man, like an extraordinary number of talented Russian youth, he entered the revolutionary struggle against Czarism in the late 1890's. Shortly thereafter he embraced what became a lifelong devotion to a Marxist political perspective.
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Mark Phillips on December 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
Considered by some to be the greatest 20th century work of history, Trotsky's masterpiece could equally be considered great literature. Trotsky's "protagonist" is the Petrograd working class, whose consciousness develops under the ebb and flow of the revolution. Trotsky writes with superb eye for individual detail, his crowd scenes as masterly as Tolstoy's battles. This is one of the great works of the 20th century.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ian Parsons on August 30, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're looking for a light read, Trotsky's History of Russian Revolution is not the way to go by any means. But, despite its length, and despite the enormity of its topic, this is an amazingly accessible and engrossing account of one of the modern world's most important political and historical events, written by one of its main players. There are certainly some parts that are more difficult than others, and some where clearly Trotsky assumes an understanding of what happened in Russia during 1917 - an expectation of his readers that would have been utterly reasonable for the audience he was writing for, at the time he was writing, but which at times can be a bit confusing for a Westerner reading it almost 100 years later. But this is only occasionally frustrating and there is, in any event, a very helpful set of appendices and glossaris at the back that help you know who's who and what's what. It is, undoubtedly in my view, well worth the effort that it will take you to get through it. I don't think any other history of the revolution is as detailed, as comprehensive, and as engaging as this. There are times when it really has you on the edge of your seat - and that, no doubt, is largely because it is written by someone who was actually there.

Max Eastman, who was a friend of Trotsky, gives us a translation that feels tremendously fresh and was enthusiastically endorsed by Trotsky himself.
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