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Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, Russia, 1917 - A World on the Edge
     

Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, Russia, 1917 - A World on the Edge

by Helen Rappaport
 

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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Romanov Sisters, Caught in the Revolution is Helen Rappaport's masterful telling of the outbreak of the Russian Revolution through eye-witness accounts left by foreign nationals who saw the drama unfold.

Between the first revolution in February 1917 and Lenin’s

Overview

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Romanov Sisters, Caught in the Revolution is Helen Rappaport's masterful telling of the outbreak of the Russian Revolution through eye-witness accounts left by foreign nationals who saw the drama unfold.

Between the first revolution in February 1917 and Lenin’s Bolshevik coup in October, Petrograd (the former St Petersburg) was in turmoil – felt nowhere more keenly than on the fashionable Nevsky Prospekt. There, the foreign visitors who filled hotels, clubs, offices and embassies were acutely aware of the chaos breaking out on their doorsteps and beneath their windows.

Among this disparate group were journalists, diplomats, businessmen, bankers, governesses, volunteer nurses and expatriate socialites. Many kept diaries and wrote letters home: from an English nurse who had already survived the sinking of the Titanic; to the black valet of the US Ambassador, far from his native Deep South; to suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, who had come to Petrograd to inspect the indomitable Women’s Death Battalion led by Maria Bochkareva.

Helen Rappaport draws upon this rich trove of material, much of it previously unpublished, to carry us right up to the action – to see, feel and hear the Revolution as it happened to an assortment of individuals who suddenly felt themselves trapped in a "red madhouse."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
12/19/2016
Rappaport (The Romanov Sisters) adopts an eyewitness approach to the Russian Revolution of 1917 in this fun, fast-paced, yet frivolous work. She bases her story on the firsthand accounts of Westerners in Petrograd at the time—a mixed bag of bankers, diplomats, journalists, socialists, and socialites, including Julia Dent Grant (granddaughter of Ulysses S. Grant); journalists Florence Harper, Arthur Ransome, and John Reed; and American war photographer Donald Thompson. Some witnesses braved the mob scene with camera and notebook in hand. Others barricaded themselves in their offices and watched through their windows, fearing for their lives as the violence escalated. Rappaport fails to really develop these personalities, and the perspective changes as rapidly as the street names. Compared to Reed’s Ten Days that Shook the World or Richard Pipes’s classic The Russian Revolution 1899–1919, this is revolution-lite, very colorful but without much analysis or context. Rappaport treats readers to glimpses of the general strikes, bread protests, looting, and red banner–waving through the smoky-rose glasses of these wistful and unprepared foreigners. Sadly, the Russians are reduced to a ragged, hungry monochrome mass. Map & illus. Agent: Caroline Michel, Peters Fraser & Dunlop. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

“Rappaport’s elegantly detailed writing shapes and pulls together excerpts from letters, diaries, articles, and more, quoted throughout, creating the immediacy and energy of history in the making: terrifying, brutal, and unforgettable.” —Booklist

“The most comprehensive compendium to date of non-Russian perspectives across social classes. . . . An engaging if challenging look at a country's collapse with worldwide repercussions. Informed general readers will enjoy this glimpse into history; scholars will declare it a definitive study.” —Library Journal (starred)

“Rappaport creates a portrait of the Russian Revolution from the points of view of outsiders who happened to be in Petrograd at the time . . . An undeniably valuable history of the Russian Revolution.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Rappaport adopts an eye witness approach to the Russian revolution of 1917 . . . fun, fast-paced.” —Publishers Weekly

"Illuminating . . . Rappaport has collected a wonderful array of observations . . . delightful and enlightening." — The London Times on Caught in the Revolution

"A gripping, vivid, deeply researched chronicle of the Russian Revolution told through the eyes of a surprising, flamboyant cast of foreigners in Petrograd, superbly narrated by Helen Rappaport." —Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The Romanovs

“Helen Rappaport paints a compelling portrait of the doomed grand duchesses.” —People magazine on The Romanov Sisters

"Rappaport, with a light hand and admiring eyes, allows the four Grand Duchesses to grow on us as they grow up.” —Christian Science Monitor on The Romanov Sisters (10 best books of June 2014)

Library Journal
01/01/2017
Rappaport contributes a unique take on the revolution using vivid primary source accounts from American, British, and French citizens who lived and worked in St. Petersburg in February 1917. The city comes alive as people witnessed the beginnings of a new nation and ideology. (LJ11/15/16)
Kirkus Reviews
2016-11-23
Rappaport (The Romanov Sisters, 2014, etc.) gathers together the impressions of foreign witnesses to the historic events of the Russian Revolution.In the heady, uncertain weeks of the revolution, mobs in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) looted and burned any and all artifacts of the Romanov family, only recently deposed. They tore down street signs and museum placards that bore the imperial insignia, and there was frequent shooting in the streets. An American journalist, seeking shelter in a gutter, found himself lying alongside a Russian officer. "I asked what was happening," he wrote later. The officer replied: "The Russians, my countrymen, are idiots. This is a white night of madness." Rappaport records these and other recollections, creating a portrait of the Russian Revolution from the points of view of outsiders who happened to be in Petrograd at the time. Foreign diplomats, journalists, and businessmen recorded their thoughts in letters, journals, and newspaper accounts both in the midst of the action and in the years following. The author uses these accounts, many of them unpublished, to follow the action from the czar's abdication in February 1917 to the ascendancy of the Bolsheviks in October. Rappaport assumes prior knowledge of these complicated events, so leading figures and key moments receive only brief introductions, and she features so many different speakers it can be hard to distinguish among them. Still, their accounts are useful because of the remarkable events they record. Sometimes those events are intriguing for their very prosody. The morning after Lenin and his fellow Bolsheviks took control of the Winter Palace, a Dutch diplomat, walking around the city with his wife, found that, while they'd been asleep, "the second Revolution had been accomplished." As he wrote later, "we did not realize what a great historical day we were living in as we trod our way home through the perfectly tranquil streets filled with apathetic, indifferent looking people." An occasionally scattershot but undeniably valuable history of the Russian Revolution.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781250056641
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
02/07/2017
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
43,687
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

Helen Rappaport studied Russian at Leeds University and is a specialist in Russian and Victorian history. Her books include Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, Russia, 1917 - A World on the Edge, A Magnificent Obsession: Victoria, Albert, and the Death That Changed the British Monarchy and The Last Days of the Romanovs. She lives in West Dorset.