The Russian Revolution 1st Vintage Books ed Edition, Kindle Edition
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-- 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."
-- Wall Street Journal
"Mr. Pipes provides invaluable background to today's headlines....Few efforts have been made to create such a comprehensive work.... Pipes is a pathfinder."
-- The New York Times
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B004EBT5G6
- Publisher : Vintage; 1st Vintage Books ed edition (July 13, 2011)
- Publication date : July 13, 2011
- Language : English
- File size : 12831 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 1531 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #186,178 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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As for conjecture of one negative reviewer that "Pipes would have preferred the corrupt and autocratic Czar still be in power today": Anyone with historical understanding would agree that most of the Absolute Monarchies of Europe & Russia had a great deal of corruption -- as do almost ALL governing institutions throughout human history. And they would agree that a modern person (or an emancipated American of any era) would not likely choose to live under Absolute Monarchy. But a clear Red Line in the Sand can be drawn between the corrupt & autocratic monarchies typifying most of human history vs the GENOCIDAL 20th century communist governments responsible for the deaths of tens & tens of millions of their own people. Lenin & the early Bolsheviks pioneered the model and worked assiduously to spread it globally.
For those whose moral worldview does not permit them to understand the difference, European scholars have written "The Black Book of Communism" to thoroughly document this history: The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression
The book is long but most of it is Pipes commentating and analyzing the politics of the Revolution, and not actual laying out the facts of what happened. I read a history of the Revolution to learn, first and foremost, what actually happened. But I couldn't even do that despite the book length.
Here is an example. About 250 pages into the book Pipes finally gets to the actual Revolution in February of 1917. But when he talks about the first day of protests and rioting he spends just a few paragraphs on it. There were literally just a handful of sentences stating what happened. A lot of people demonstrating in the street doing stuff. I still don't even know what happened. Somehow he spends chapters describing Russia's property system in the 19th century but little on the actual Revolution. That's the point when I put the book down for good.
Even worse, much of his analysis of what happened seems poor and just wrong.
For instance, he says that the Revolutionary movement originated as mainly mainstream liberals who wanted a bit more freedom and he dated it to 1899 and some student protests. But then he drops this thread, doesn't explain how the student protests caused further events, and casually notes that during this whole time period terrorists were constantly assassinating the Tsar's ministers. So in Pipes analysis, the assassinations are a meaningless sideshow, and the movement was really forced by student protests? Sorry, I don't buy it.
Spent hours on this book. Unfortunately did not learn much. People seem to assume it is a good book because it is big and scholarly sounding. Sorry, not so! I'm still looking for a good book on this history!
“The Russian Revolution” is a monster of a book – 842 pages not including endnotes. Washington Post Book World hails it as a “gripping read.” I would tone that praise down a bit and call it “readable.”
Pipes divides the book in half. The first section, “The Agony of the Old Regime,” is a detailed chronicle of Tsarist Russia at the turn of the twentieth century. Pipes is fond of making comparisons to the French Revolution. For instance, he notes that Russia had the same proportional representation of peasants as did France in 1789. He claims that the Zemstvo Congress and Bloody Sunday of 1905 were the Estates General and Bastille Day, respectively, in the Russian Revolution. The Russian’s tried to limit the influence of the intelligentsia in the Duma the way the ancien regime sought to vitiate the power of the Third Estate. Alexandra for her part was a perfect stand in for Marie Antoinette, as was Lenin for Robespierre. Moreover, Russia was every bit as volatile and bloody as Paris in the early 1790s. For example, between 1906 and 1907 no fewer than 4,500 Russian officials were killed or maimed by domestic terrorists. Attempts at reforms were halting and half-measured, although Pipes writes glowingly of the reform-minded Prime Minister Peter Stolypin, “arguably the most outstanding statesman of Imperial Russia,” who was nevertheless assassinated by radicals in Kiev in 1911.
A key theme in Part One is that Russia before 1917 was governed much like an occupying imperial power. The peasant population was treated similarly to how the British treated Indians during the Raj or the French the Vietnamese in Indo-China. The masses were controlled and exploited. Moreover, they were despised. No degree of political liberalization was deemed safe or advisable. Reforms were made under duress only, and then only gradually and impermenantly.
Pipes argues that Russia was on the verge of political rebellion before the First World War, a conflict for which the country was unprepared on just about every level. According to the British military attaché in Moscow, the Russians were “just great big-hearted children who had thought out nothing and had stumbled half-asleep into a wasp’s nest.” The truly amazing thing is that the government didn’t collapse until 1917. From the outset of the war, the opposition and the government were unwilling to bury their differences. “The absence in Russia of an overriding sense of national unity was never more painfully in evidence,” Pipes writes.
When the end of the monarchy came, it came swiftly and suddenly. A three hundred year dynasty went up in a puff of smoke. “Russia in the spring of 1917,” Pipes says, “may well represent a unique instance of a government born of a revolution dissolving the machinery of administration before it had a chance to replace it with one of its own creation.” What was left was a vacuum that neither the Provisional Government nor the Petrograd Soviet did much to fill. “It was as if the greatest empire in the world, covering one-sixth of the earth’s surface, were an artificial construction, without organic unity, held together by wires all of which converged in the person of the monarch. The instant the monarch withdrew, the wires snapped and the whole construction collapsed in a heap.”
Part two, “The Boleshviks Conquer Russia,” concentrates on the Marxist revolution led by Lenin in October 1917. “Lenin’s dominant impulse was and remained hatred,” Pipes says, “His outlook on life was a mixture of Clausewitz and Social Darwinism.” Owing to Lenin, only the Bolsheviks had the chutzpah and fortitude to lead Russia out of anarchy.