The Russian Revolution paints a clear and detailed picture of what Russia was like in the decade leading up to the revolution: the economic condition, the bureaucracy of the Czar’s monarchy, the strikes and street demonstrations, nihilism, peasant uprisings, and repression of the Jews.
This was the era of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Turgenev, yet most of Russia was illiterate, and isolated from the West. Even the university students had little exposure to world cultures especially in the fields of political science and philosophy. Yet, during this time the revolutionary movement was being crudely formed.
Approximately 15 million men had been recruited to the Czarist army, “to fight World War I, many of them sent into the trenches without proper clothing, without boots, and even sometimes without a rifle.”
By the year 1916 millions of soldiers had died, and most families lived on less than $150 a year in single room huts facing food shortages and extreme hardship; no bathhouses, no soap, and no medical attention of any kind.
This book chronologically tells the events that led to the 1917 revolution: Marxism and the key players: Trotsky, Lenin and Stalin. It explains how several different political parties competed for power. It tells how Lenin, a fugitive in exile, hiding from persecution, became the leader of the Bolshevik party, and ultimately the communist country Russia. And it expands on the role Germany played in the revolution.
The book is crammed full of interesting facts. For example: Germany invested approximately 1 million marks in the Bolshevik party, and aided Lenin in secretly returning to Russia and seizing power with the agreement that he would end the war. Churchill was quoted as saying “Germany turned upon Russia the most grisly of all weapons. They transported Lenin in a sealed truck like a plague bacillus from Switzerland to Russia.”
And in the end the book tells how Lenin betrayed his party and his country. His rhetorical promises of equality and a Constituent Assembly of Citizens (freely elected parliament) were thrown by the wayside as the new communist government party took over all government agencies, ownership of all land, the banks, the gold supply, the press, and utilities. The stock market was “swept away” and so were all rights of inheritance. Church lands were confiscated and religious teaching was forbidden in schools. “The state religion was now Leninism.” No Constituent Assembly. No votes. No freedom of speech. No debates. No discussions. No freedom-period. A tragic outcome!
Of course, everyone already knows the outcome of the Russian Revolution, but this book gives the reader the feeling that they are actually living through it. An exceptional, passionately written documentary.
Rated 4.5 Stars
I use a rating scale of 1 to 5. Books rated 1, I seldom finish; books rated 2, I usually finish but would never recommend to anyone. 5 is the highest rating.