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A Concise History of the Russian Revolution


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Richard Pipes was for many years a professor of history at Harvard University. He is the author of numerous books and essays on Russia, past and present, including Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. In 1981-82 he served as President Reagan's National Security Council adviser on Soviet and East European affairs, and he has twice received a Guggenheim fellowship. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Marlborough, New Hampshire.


Harvard historian Pipes emphasizes that the Russian Revolution of October 1917 was actually a coup d'etat, a seizing of power by a tightly organized conspiracy, carried out with a show of mass participation but with almost no mass involvement. By synthesizing and condensing his two recent books‘The Russian Revolution (1990) and Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime (1994)‘into a superb narrative augmented with scores of photographs and maps, he has produced the single most readable, useful and illuminating chronicle of the revolution and its aftermath. Lenin, authoritarian, fanatical, secretive and intolerant, ordered the construction of concentration camps in 1918. Pipes shows how Lenin's one-party police state paved the way for Stalin by throttling democratic impulses and through unremitting terror and expropriations. Chapters cover the civil war, which crushed antimonarchist democrats (``Whites''); the Bolsheviks' annihilation of politically active peasants (``kulaks'') despite massive peasant revolts; the murder of the imperial family; the Soviets' subjugation of ethnic groups and nationalities; and the war against religion. Pipes's remarkably vivid, compelling narrative turns up fresh insights on every page. (Oct.)

"A deep and eloquent condemnation of the revolution and its aftermath."--The New York Times

Pipes (history, Harvard Univ.) has condensed his two-volume opus, The Russian Revolution (LJ 11/1/90) and Russia Under the Bolsheviks (LJ 3/15/94), into a single readable volume. Forcefully showing why the 70-year-old Communist experiment failed, he provides the nonacademic reader with accurate historical events in a highly readable format. Only a minor flaw in the fourth chapter, where he fails to explain who the Mensheviks were until 30 pages later in the next chapter, mars this excellent book. The approach parallels Dominic Lieven's contemporary volume Nicholas II (LJ 1/94) but is better organized and more complete. The last chapter does a fine job of summing up the revolution and adds a curious comparison between Bolshevik and Tsarist Russia. Ultimately, Pipes shows how the seeds of destruction of communism were planted at its inception in 1917. Recommended for public, academic, and school libraries.‘Harry Willems, Kansas Lib. System, Iola

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