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The Russian Revolution and the Russian Civil War are hardly new territory for scholars, yet Mawdsley's excellent work here is not redundant but fresh throughout. With orderliness and clarity, the scholarly and prolific Mawdsley (modern history, Glasgow Univ.; Thunder in the East: The Nazi-Soviet War, 1941-1945) presents the minority view that the civil war began in October 1917, concurrent with rather than after the revolution. The "specter of Russian fighting Russian," seen as a possibility when Tsar Nicholas was overthrown in February 1917, became reality in Petrograd when armed soldiers and workers organized by the Bolsheviks brought down Aleksandr Kerensky's provisional government. The fighting spread and continued for three years, costing more than seven million lives. Although Mawdsley's frequent interjections explaining how and why this happened may have something of the lecture room about them, they are ultimately useful rather than distracting. However, despite its readability, this book is more for the informed than the lay reader.
—Harold V. Cordry