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The Russian Civil War Hardcover – October 8, 1987

3.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'the best book ever written on the Russian Civil War ... a first-rate work of scholarly synthesis' - Robert McNeal 'a miracle of concision, clarity and completeness' - Michael Malancon 'abounds in controversial judgements, ably backed and well documented' - D.A. Longley --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Evan Mawdsley is Professor of History at Glasgow University. He has written numerous books and articles on Russian history and is the co-author of The Soviet Elite from Lenin to Gorbachev. He lives in Glasgow. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (October 8, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0049470248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0049470248
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,640,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Victor A. Vyssotsky on December 29, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Among the innumerable books and essays on the Russian Civil War, this is by far the best book to start with. It's reasonably short, very readable, has helpful maps, and an excellent bibliography. It's one of the few books to present a coherent, unified account of an extremely complex and messy historical episode. Best of all, Mawdsley, who is (or at least was until recently) a professional historian at the University of Glasgow, writes his book without basing it on any particular political viewpoint, whereas the great majority of books on the Russian Civil War have an axe to grind. In order to keep the book readable and reasonably short, Mawdsley omits a great deal of important information; for the reader who wants to delve further, Volume Two of William Henry Chamberlin's `The Russian Revolution, 1917 - 1921' originally published in 1934, is still the book to read next after Mawdsley.
Unfortunately, Mawdsley's book is out of print and seems to be hard to come by. However, a determined book search can locate a copy, or of course your local library can get a copy on interlibrary loan. I wish it was back in print.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a light and quick read for an overview of the Russian Civil War for someone new to the subject. It is somewhat difficult to follow as the author jumps around in time as if he never came to grips with how to organize his material. The maps are less than emlightening, are too general, and do not aid the reader's comprehension. I was often searching the maps in vain to locate a city or town the author was referencing in the text. I finally had to make do with a map of the Soviet Union I had in my possession.

Interestingly, the author essentially omits the American participation in the intervention at Arkhangelsk, but that is probably to be expected from a British author.

Somehow the reader is left with the feeling that he hasn't read enough to understand the dynamics of the Russian Civil War, other to realize that the Bolsheviks were better organized than the Whites, much more monolithically directed and coordinated, and that the control of Moscow and the heartland of Russia proved decisive for the Reds. That could have been done in half the space, but a comprehensive treatment would require a tome of over a thousand pages. Personally I would like to see the author produce that tome with numerous maps.
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By NOYDB on August 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Excellent coverage of a little covered topic. Very good military and political analysis, particularly on the strategic level. Illustrates the sheer chaos that was the Russian Civil War, with its many factions, twists, and turns. To the best I could tell also relatively fair to all of the participants, the author's conclusions made sense and matched my own understanding and background.

Potential readers should note, however, that it is clearly written for someone who wants to understand why Bolsheviks won and how they did it, and not a simple human interest story. For someone simply wanting an interesting read it would be dry. If you need to know about the Russian Civil War, however, this is your book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even when I was an undergraduate in the late 1960s, Russian History was a source of interest to me. However, I have only recently, in retirement, been able to return to this interesting area of study. I have very pleasantly surprised by the wealth of new material and published books that are now available on specific topics like the Russian Civil.

I enjoyed the book listing five individual military operations by the White forces which were the most dramatic and threatening to the young Bolshevik government. These five operations were: 1.) the Volga Campaign of September of 1918 which came out of Siberia and resulted in the capture of the city of Kazan; 2.) the campaign around the city of Ufa carried out by Admiral Kolchak in the spring of 1919; 3.) General Denikin's offensive from the south in May and June of 1919; 4.) Denikin's offensive from the south in September and October of 1919; and 5.) the Polish invasion of Russia from the west from April until October of 1920. Breaking down the entire Civil War into these five dramatic operations was extremely helpful to me as I read other books on the Civil War.
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Format: Hardcover
The Russian Civil War of 1917-1920 was a very complicated affair, covering vast stretches of Russian territory, and numerous armies, armored trains (as in"Doctor Zhivago"), and almost untold numbers of names of people involved. This book is fairly well written, but it does get plodding on more than one occasion, which isn't surprising, given what I've mentioned above. My chief fault with this book is that it tends to assume that the reader has quite a bit of familiarity with the era, the people involved and certain instances(such as the "Ice March"). If you're simply a general reader seeking to find out what happened, you're going to get more than a bit confused. The author tries to cram too much detail into too little space, and that hurts the book overall. For a more reader friendly work on the same topic, read the book by W. Bruce Lincoln, "Red Victory".
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Format: Paperback
If you want a very well researched textbook, this is it.

If you want a "readable" version, this isn't for you.
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