History of the Russian Revolution

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Overview


“During the first two months of 1917 Russia was still a Romanov monarchy. Eight months later the Bolsheviks stood at the helm. They were little known to anybody when the year began, and their leaders were still under indictment for state treason when they came to power. You will not find another such sharp turn in history especially if you remember that it involves a nation of 150 million people. It is clear that the events of 1917, whatever you think of them, deserve study.”
--Leon Trotsky, from History of the Russian Revolution

Regarded by many as among the most powerful works of history ever written, this book offers an unparalleled account of one of the most pivotal and hotly debated events in world history. This book reveals, from the perspective of one of its central actors, the Russian Revolution’s profoundly democratic, emancipatory character.

Originally published in three parts, Trotsky’s masterpiece is collected here in a single volume. It serves as the most vital and inspiring record of the Russian Revolution to date.

“[T]he greatest history of an event that I know.”
--C. L. R. James

“In Trotsky all passions were aroused, but his thought remained calm and his vision clear.... His involvement in the struggle, far from blurring his sight, sharpens it.... The History is his crowning work, both in scale and power and as the fullest expression of his ideas on revolution. As an account of a revolution, given by one of its chief actors, it stands unique in world literature.”
--Isaac Deutscher

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931859455
  • Publisher: Haymarket Books
  • Publication date: 4/1/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 1040
  • Sales rank: 626,284
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Leon Trotsky was a leader of the Russian revolution in 1917 and is the author of My Life, The History of the Russian Revolution, and The Revolution Betrayed. Ahmed Shawki is the editor of the International Socialist Review.
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Table of Contents


A Note About the Author     ix
Preface     xv
The Overthrow of Tsarism
Peculiarities of Russia's Development     3
Tsarist Russia in the War     13
The Proletariat and the Peasantry     26
The Tsar and the Tsarina     40
The Idea of a Palace Revolution     49
The Death Agony of the Monarchy     59
Five Days     75
Who Led the February Insurrection?     100
The Paradox of the February Revolution     112
The New Power     131
Dual Power     149
The Executive Committee     156
The Army and the War     179
The Ruling Group and the War     195
The Bolsheviks and Lenin     206
Rearming the Party     227
The April Days     240
The First Coalition     259
The Offensive     269
The Peasantry     282
Shifts in the Masses     296
The Congress of Soviets and the June Demonstration     316
Conclusion     330
Chronological Table for Volume One
Appendix I     333
Appendix II     338
Appendix III     343
The AttemptedCounterrevolution
Introduction to Volumes Two and Three     350
The July Days: Preparation and Beginning     357
The July Days: Culmination and Rout     378
Could the Bolsheviks Have Seized the Power?     401
The Month of the Great Slander     418
The Counterrevolution Lifts Its Head     439
Kerensky and Kornilov     456
The State Conference in Moscow     474
Kerensky's Plot     491
Kornilov's Insurrection     506
The Bourgeoisie Measures Strength with the Democracy     520
The Masses Under Attack     540
The Rising Tide     559
The Bolsheviks and the Soviets     580
The Last Coalition     594
The Triumph of the Soviets
The Peasantry Before October     617
The Problem of Nationalities     641
Withdrawal from the Pre-Parliament and Struggle for the Congress of Soviets     662
The Military Revolutionary Committee     681
Lenin Summons to Insurrection     708
The Art of Insurrection     740
The Conquest of the Capital     764
The Capture of the Winter Palace     793
The October Insurrection     819
The Congress of the Soviet Dictatorship     838
Conclusion     869
Some Legends of the Bureaucracy     875
Socialism in a Separate Country     890
Historic References on the Theory of "Permanent Revolution"     914
Chronological Table     920
A Short List of Principal Persons     925
A Short List of Principal Places     930
A Brief Glossary of Unfamiliar Terms     932
A List of Parties and Political Groups     935
Index     938
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2005

    One of the best books ever written about revolution

    In spite of its length, I've read this book several times. It isn't just a widely acclaimed historic and literary masterpiece, written by a leading participant in the events he describes. It isn't just vividly written and thoroughly researched. More importantly, it's one of the best books ever written about revolution, as relevant today as ever. The most important conclusion that emerges is the crucial role of a revolutionary party with an overwhelmingly working class membership, leadership and political orientation: a party that has trained itself in the many years of partial struggles that precede a revolutionary crisis; studied together the lessons of past revolutionary struggles throughout the world; and done everything possible to educate broader layers of workers in those lessons. (The point is illustrated both positively and negatively. More than once, Lenin had to turn to the Bolshevik's working class rank and file against wavering intellectuals in the party leadership.) Please don't be put off by the first chapter, the driest and most difficult in the book. The basic idea is that capitalism arrived late in Russia, imported from abroad in the form of huge factories, which laid the basis for the rapid development of a strong, militant labor movement. As a result, the emerging capitalist class was reluctant to mobilize the masses against the feudal nobles and landlords that stood in their way, for fear that the aroused workers might turn on the capitalists themselves. Under the impact of war and economic crisis, the resulting mixture of different forms of class oppression exploded in a combined revolt of workers, farmers, and oppressed nationalities, destroying both feudalism and capitalism by the time it was through. Several postcripts: (1) If you're wondering what went wrong in the Soviet Union after such a promising start, I recommend 'The Revolution Betrayed' by Trotsky; also 'Lenin's Final Fight' by Lenin. (2) I disagree with Trotsky's assessment of the pre-1917 differences between himself and Lenin concerning the role of working farmers, the relationship between democratic (anti-feudal) revolution and socialist revolution, and Lenin's formula, 'the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry'. I think Trotsky's discussion of this is confusing. I recommend 'Their Trotsky and Ours' by Jack Barnes. There is also a good debate in 'Bolshevism and the Russian Revolution' by Doug Jenness, Ernest Mandel, and V.I. Lenin. (3) I strongly recommend making full use of the chronology and glossaries in the back of the book. I relied very heavily on all of these, so much so that I used color-coded post-its to turn to them easily. (4) Finally, I recommend the ads in the back of the book. Pathfinder Press is defined by a political goal, not commercial success. It aims to provide a platform for revolutionary leaders speaking in their own words. If you like one book, you will probably like others.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2003

    How to overthrow the profit system

    This is one of the most exciting books I¿ve ever read. It tells the amazing story of the Russian revolution of 1917, from the overthrow of the Czar to the Bolshevik Revolution of October. What makes it an incredible read is that the author, Leon Trotsky, was at the middle of it all, as one of the central planners of the insurrection that took power. Trotsky was a great revolutionary and great writer. But one thing I especially like about the book is that Trotsky uses excerpts from many other accounts, including those who hated him with a passion, to tell the story accurately. It is an inspiring story, especially for new generations of young people, workers and farmers who need to learn about an example showing that the dog-eat-dog system of capitalism we live in can be overthrown. For the definitive account of how this great revolution was later derailed, see Trotsky¿s Revolution Betrayed.

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