Russia under the Bolshevik Regime: Lenin and the Birth of the Totalitarian State

Overview

Russia under the Bolshevik Regime is the sequel to Richard Pipes's classic The Russian Revolution, and covers the time from the outbreak of the Civil War in 1918 to the death of Lenin in 1924, when all the institutions and nearly all the practices of future Stalinism were in place. In the first history of the period to make use of the recently opened Russian archives, the author traces the formative years of the Communist state, when the Bolshevik leaders - Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and others - put their stamp on ...
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Overview

Russia under the Bolshevik Regime is the sequel to Richard Pipes's classic The Russian Revolution, and covers the time from the outbreak of the Civil War in 1918 to the death of Lenin in 1924, when all the institutions and nearly all the practices of future Stalinism were in place. In the first history of the period to make use of the recently opened Russian archives, the author traces the formative years of the Communist state, when the Bolshevik leaders - Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and others - put their stamp on a regime that was to hold power for the next seventy years. He describes the efforts of the Bolsheviks to defend and expand their dominion to the borderlands of Russia and to the rest of the world; the Civil War between Whites and Reds, the most destructive episode in the country's history since the Mongol invasion of the thirteenth century; the devastating famine of 1921; Lenin's cultural and religious policies; and the crisis that engulfed the regime in the early 1920s as the result of political and economic failures. Richard Pipes shows that a great deal of what the Communists did had roots in Russia's historical experience and that both Mussolini and Hitler adapted, for their own purposes, the totalitarian techniques first developed by the Bolsheviks. Bolshevism, he says, was "the most audacious attempt in history to subject the entire life of the country to a master plan." "The tragic and sordid history of the Russian Revolution," he concludes, "teaches that political authority must never be employed for ideological ends."
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Harvard historian Pipes's judgment, Lenin, Trotsky and their fellow Bolsheviks were not utopians but fanatics. Seizing power in Russia as the springboard for a global revolution, they deceptively promised every disenchanted group what it wanted to hear, and manipulated the Soviets or workers' councils while consolidating their absolute power through the Party and secret police. In this sequel to The Russian Revolution , Pipes persuasively argues that Lenin's one-party dictatorship, through its terrorizing, suppression of the press, censorship and monopolistic control of cultural organizations, set the stage for Stalin's genocidal totalitarianism. His powerful narration, an essential source, bristles with fresh interpretations as it discusses the Russian civil war, anti-Jewish pogroms, famine, Moscow's vehement campaign against religion, the suppression of ethnic and national groups, and Lenin's short-lived, pro-capitalist New Economic Policy. Pipes shows how both Hitler and Mussolini drew on Lenin's tyrannical methods, and he perceptively analyzes the mind-set of Western fellow-travelers who wove fantasies of the U.S.S.R. as an egalitarian Eden while rationalizing its evils. Photos. (Mar.)
Library Journal
This new volume further confirms the author's preeminence as a historian of Russia, already established by his now-classic The Russian Revolution ( LJ 11/1/90) and earlier works. The Soviet Union's collapse lends a particular relevance to his work, which has benefited from access to long-closed archives. Covering the period from 1918 to Lenin's death in 1924, Pipes expands upon his indictment of the Soviet leader and his Bolsheviks with a mass of data and crushing evidence. Ending his narrative with the funeral of Lenin, he concludes with a judicious, fascinating essay, ``Reflections on the Russian Revolution.'' This offers a reexamination of underlying trends and mythologies of the revolution, as well as a restatement of Pipes's belief in Russia's patrimonial legacy and its abiding influence. An important, valuable, passionate book for scholars and general readers. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/93.-- R.H. Johnston, McMaster Univ., Hamilton, Ontario
Gilbert Taylor
Closing out his masterpiece trilogy on the Russian revolution (the last being "The Russian Revolution", 1990), Pipes in this volume examines the character of the totalitarian state Lenin created. By the time of the founder's funeral in 1924--a weird, quasi-religious obsequy wholly at variance with Communist precepts--every attribute the future would label "Stalinism" existed, and Pipes' magnificant analytic narrative explains how that tyranny germinated under Lenin's care. For example, Lenin abominated religion--a fact generally known, yet not particularly favored by historians as worthy of study; therefore Pipes' most original chapter, "The Assault on Religion," reverses decades of scholarly neglect. With other matters, and with patient, cumulatively devastating persuasion, Pipes conclusively proves Lenin's personal responsibility (an angels-on-pinheads distinction that has pitted apologists against critics of Bolshevism) for all that followed. His decisions during the Civil War, and during his grim resolve to preserve the new regime's monopoly on power in the war's aftermath of revolts, famines, and show trials, have struck writers variously as necessary or perverse, but not so Pipes. He feels Lenin's penchant for "militarized politics" amounted to a Promethean quest to reduce human society into a technical machine. Well-written, and starkly laconic where need be (in descriptions of executions and the like), this challenging work culminates a great scholar's lifetime of study. No library should be without it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394502427
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/15/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 587

Table of Contents

Illustrations
Abbreviations
Introduction
1 The Civil War: The First Battles (1918) 3
2 The Civil War: The Climax (1919-1920) 51
3 The Red Empire 141
4 Communism for Export 166
5 Communism, Fascism, and National Socialism 240
6 Culture as Propaganda 282
7 The Assault on Religion 337
8 NEP: The False Thermidor 369
9 The Crisis of the New Regime 436
Reflections on the Russian Revolution 490
Glossary 513
Chronology 515
Notes 519
Selected Bibliography 561
Index 565
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