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The Russian Revolution [Paperback]

Richard Pipes
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 5, 1991 0679736603 978-0679736608 1st Vintage Books ed
Mr. Pipes writes trenchantly, and at times superbly....No single volume known to me even begins to cater so adequately to those who want to discover what really happened to Russia....Nor do I know any other book better designed to help Soviet citizens to struggle out of the darkness."

-- Ronald Hingley, The New York Times Book Review

Ground-breaking in its inclusiveness, enthralling in its narrative of a movement whose purpose, in the words of Leon Trotsky, was "to overthrow the world," The Russian Revolution draws conclusions that have already aroused great controversy in this country-and that are certain to be explosive when the book is published in the Soviet Union. Richard Pipes argues convincingly that the Russian Revolution was an intellectual, rather than a class, uprising; that it was steeped in terror from its very outset; and that it was not a revolution at all but a coup d'etat -- "the capture of governmental power by a small minority."

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The Russian Revolution + Russia under the Old Regime: Second Edition (Penguin History) + Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With erudition lightly worn, Harvard historian Pipes, in this massive, wonderfully vivid, gripping chronicle, stresses the role of liberals both in the Russian revolution of 1905, for which the Communists later claimed credit, and in the upheavals of 1917. He attributes the failure of the February 1917 revolution to Alexander Kerensky's rash actions, his doctrinaire vision of democracy and his dissolution of the police and the provincial bureaucracy, which plunged the nation into anarchy. He argues persuasively that the Bolsheviks' October 1917 putsch was not a true revolution, but a classic coup d'etat. His portrayal of the backward Russian peasantry, scarcely touched by westernization, and of the intelligentsia, "self-appointed spokesman" for over nine-tenths of the populace, lays the groundwork for his discerning analysis of how Lenin built a one-party dictatorship. No other book so brilliantly clarifies the inner dynamics of the Russian Revolution. Photos.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The author, a distinguished Harvard historian, seeks to present a comprehensive view of the Russian Revolution, tracing its roots in the half century before 1917, a period he has already examined in Russia Under the Old Regime ( LJ 3/15/75). His new book, which will also be published in the Soviet Union, should provoke lively debate in the age of glasnost, for it is an unsparing indictment of Bolshevism. Wide ranging in its coverage, based on a profound knowledge of the Russian past and of relevant Western and Soviet scholarship, the work analyzes the direction of Russian development to the Revolution (without whitewashing prerevolutionary figures such as Nicholas II), then goes on to examine the origins and entrenchment of Bolshevism, which Pipes sees as a savagely amoral force. If Soviet power in its first years brought any benefits at all, they are, in this evaluation, insignificant compared to the ghastly price paid for them by the Russian people. This is an important book.
- Robert H. Johnston, McMaster Univ., Hamilton, Ontario
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 976 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Books ed edition (November 5, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679736603
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679736608
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #488,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, definitive and poignant in its wisdom October 31, 1999
By A Customer
As for Russian history, this book is the bible regarding the revolutionary period. For French Revolution fans, here is Russia's version of "citizen" action contructed by diabolical architects who kept France's success always in front of them. As for political science, this book is wise in its interpretation of political action and didactic in its interpretation about this failed expirament in alleged utopianism. Once read one is convinced of Russia's failure in governing and appalled at its deliberate evil perpitrated by a few upon millions who sought and needed true freedom. Prof. Pipes brings home accountability for the actions of afew dangerous men. This book is a brilliant, an enlightening historical study about Russia, history in general and man as a creature who is always seeking power and social control. Pipes clearly reveals that history does repeats itself. And, like Winston Churchill, reveals how good people can understand evil actions if they understand history. Superb, superb, superb.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Russia at the Crossroads: Fatalism Reinvented? April 16, 2006
The Russian Revolution is a massive chronicle of detailed analysis, forming the middle volume to Pipes trilogy that began with Russia Under The Old Regime and concluded with Russia Under The Bolshevik Regime. This is a thoroughly absorbing work that shows from 1905 every tangled aspect leading up to the murder of the imperial family in July 1918 and start of the Red Terror.

The swirling chaos brought about by the First World War and the Tsar's abdication, simultaneously created a situation of armed Russian troops that were waiting to be mobilised for the eastern front, now suddenly found themselves sitting on the edge of a power vacuum crater within Russia. Once the provisional government that stepped in to fill the void started to slide, many a contending, brutal faction rose to the boil with the odds definitely stacked against the Bolsheviks; a misleading term that means majority when in reality they were a violent minority.

After the Bolshevik coup d' etat, it was the Germans who continued to prop them up, particularly after Lenin and Trotsky had signed away with the treaty of Brest-Litovsk huge amounts of Russian territory as far west as Kiev, enabling Russia to renege on its commitments to the allies who . . . `suffered immense human and material losses. As a result of Russia's dropping out of the war' . . . (only to internationalise the Revolution) . . . `the Germans withdrew from the inactive Eastern Front enough divisions to increase their effectives in the west by nearly one-fourth (from 150 to 192 divisions). These reinforcements allowed them to mount a ferocious offensive' . . . the allies . . . `lost hundreds of thousands of men. This sacrifice finally brought Germany to her knees. And the defeat of Germany, to which it had made no contribution . . .
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54 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Antidote to Soviet Apologia April 22, 1999
It's amazing how many histories of the USSR or the Russian Revolution will gloss over the waves of terror they initiated, or imply that this terror was "necessary," or speak of it in the same phlegmatic way that one would describe routine events. This makes a stark contrast to the way that moral indignation is NOT withheld from histories of Nazi Germany. Professor Pipes should be commended for expressing moral indignation about inexcusable and unnecessary tyranny and bloodshed, just as William L. Shirer deserves commendation for telling the story of Nazi Germany the way it really happened. (Did this mean that Shirer was "biased"? If he had downplayed the Nazi terror and devoted hundreds of pages to Nazi "accomplishments" such as full employment, would this have been an accurate and meaningful account of the Third Reich?) Indeed, the fact that Pipes' book attracts criticism from intellectuals for having revealed the true face of Lenin's Bolsheviks and the Soviet government they installed--in all its ruthlessness, depravity, and mendacity--is strong proof that his book's focus on the role of depraved intellectuals and depraved theories in the establishment of the USSR is right on the money. As Pipes pointed out, one of its founding ideas can be traced back to Rousseau--the idea that man is a mere creature of his "environment," and therefore completely malleable. This amounts to an engraved invitation to bloodthirsty monsters like Lenin and Stalin to start thinking that mankind should be forced to become "good," regardless of the human cost. Read more ›
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debunks Soviet mythology July 8, 2007
It is a shame that such historians as Richard Pipes do not have a more prominent place on America's college campuses. His detailed account of the Russian Revolution convincingly debunks the long-held view that the Russian Revolution was somehow an expression of popular sentiments. Instead, it was, as Pipes calls it, a coup d'etat, led by a small group of hard-core revolutionaries. He convincingly demonstrates how this Bolshevik coup was quickly carried out by taking Petrograd's major transportation and communication hubs. By this point, the Provisonal Government was largely irrelevant, and few shots were actually fired! Not at all a repeat of the storming of the Bastille (itself something of a myth). Pipes also goes into a detailed discussion of the Bolsheviks' policies of War Communism and rule-by-terror. In so doing, Pipes argues that these policies were deliberately orchestrated to subjugate the Russian people (as opposed to being necessary wartime measures, which is often used as an apology for these policies). There are two things that Pipes discusses that are particularly interesting: the degree to which the Imperial German govt. sought to cultivate relations with the Bolsheviks in an effort to take over Russia and close down the Eastern Front and Lenin's ongoing protestations that the "Bolsheviks" were a private entity within Russia and therefore did not at all represent "offical" govt. policy. The latter allowed the Russian govt. to get around norms of international law and attempt to export Bolshevism to other areas of Europe. This duplicity served as a model for later totalitarian regimes to follow (check out Nazi Germany and the Islamic Republic of Iran for evidence of this). Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Facts for Apologists
This is not an easy read, and you'd hope that such an exciting subject would be more of a page-turner. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Ron L
5.0 out of 5 stars About the Only Book You Need to Read
Richard Pipes is a magnificent historian. I've both read his History of Communism and Russia Under the Bolsheviks. His treatment of the Russian Revolution is superb. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Bernard Chapin
5.0 out of 5 stars More than you know
This book on the evolution of the Russian revolution is amazing. The detail with which you will learn about the entire structure of czarist government, rural life, and the gulf... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Attilio Twomoonmusic
5.0 out of 5 stars Carefully researched, meticulously presented
The 1- and 2-star reviews of this book remind me of dinner hosts who, perhaps thinking that I could be coaxed into orthodox speech and behavior, said, "we have the wine. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Adam B. Ritchie Jr.
2.0 out of 5 stars Dry and tedious
I'm not an expert in the field so I won't comment on the research itself. (Keep in mind, however, that the book was published in 1990). Read more
Published on May 28, 2012 by N. Perz
5.0 out of 5 stars West Pointer Required Reading
Twenty years after graduating from USMA (West Point) I'm beginning to fill some gaps in my education. Read more
Published on March 22, 2012 by sweller
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent account
This is simply a fantastic book about an historic event driven by a deep, consequential philosophical battle that continues to this day. Read more
Published on January 8, 2011 by Jackstraw
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing and Poorly Researched
This is an expansive but ultimately shallow chronicling of what is generically referred to as the "Russian Revolution". Read more
Published on July 10, 2010 by JTK Out West
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
This book was written by an academic, and yet it is free of Marxian cant. A truly objective and intelligent study of these events. Read more
Published on May 13, 2010 by J. Peters
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and vivid survey
Pipes' magisterial survey is enormous and not a page too long. He provides sharp personality sketches of the major participants while maintaining the reader's awareness of what... Read more
Published on November 25, 2009 by Veteran Reds Fan
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