Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991: A Pelican Introduction

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9780141043678: Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991: A Pelican Introduction
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What caused the Russian Revolution? Did it succeed or fail? Do we still live with its consequences? Orlando Figes teaches history at Birkbeck, University of London and is the author of many acclaimed books on Russian history, including A People's Tragedy, which The Times Literary Supplement named as one of the '100 most influential books since the war', Natasha's Dance, The Whisperers, Crimea and Just Send Me Word. The Financial Times called him 'the greatest storyteller of modern Russian historians.'

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Orlando Figes's books have been translated into 20 languages - they include Crimea, Just Send Me Word, Natasha's Dance, A People's Tragedy and The Whisperers. Figes is Professor of Modern History at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is Britain's foremost writer on the Soviet Union.

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Russia’s experience of the Bolshevik regime appears as a complete historical period in this survey. Figes sets the stage by describing the politics that paved the way for Lenin—radicalization of parties and the rigidity of the Romanov autocracy and its collapse under the strains of WWI. Recounting the Reds’ victory in the ensuing Russian Civil War, Figes underscores that Lenin’s governing instruments and attempt to totally eradicate capitalism were not anomalies but essential features of the Communist program. His concession in 1921 to restore a modicum of free enterprise encouraged successive leaders such as Gorbachev to look to the 1920s for the “real” Lenin, but Figes delineates the weaknesses of the argument. Stalin reached for the real Lenin of the Civil War, who employed mass suppression, dispossession of the peasantry, and state control of industry. Reprising those policies, albeit on a pathologically murderous scale, Stalin cultivated support from the generation he promoted to fill the places of his victims. Bringing the story full circle with the Khrushchev generation’s doubts about the Communist system, Figes delivers an exemplary introduction to the Russian Revolution. --Gilbert Taylor

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