The Russian Revolution

( 3 )

Overview

Mr. Pipes writes trenchantly, and at times superbly....No single volume known to me even begins to cater so adequately to those who want to discover what really happened to Russia....Nor do I know any other book better designed to help Soviet citizens to struggle out of the darkness."

-- Ronald Hingley, The New York Times Book Review

Ground-breaking in its inclusiveness, enthralling in its narrative of a movement whose purpose, in the words of Leon Trotsky, was "to overthrow the...

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The Russian Revolution

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Overview

Mr. Pipes writes trenchantly, and at times superbly....No single volume known to me even begins to cater so adequately to those who want to discover what really happened to Russia....Nor do I know any other book better designed to help Soviet citizens to struggle out of the darkness."

-- Ronald Hingley, The New York Times Book Review

Ground-breaking in its inclusiveness, enthralling in its narrative of a movement whose purpose, in the words of Leon Trotsky, was "to overthrow the world," The Russian Revolution draws conclusions that have already aroused great controversy in this country-and that are certain to be explosive when the book is published in the Soviet Union. Richard Pipes argues convincingly that the Russian Revolution was an intellectual, rather than a class, uprising; that it was steeped in terror from its very outset; and that it was not a revolution at all but a coup d'etat -- "the capture of governmental power by a small minority."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A monumental study...of absorbing interest [by] the distinguished historian of modern Russia ...Lucidly written, unsurpassed in detail and comprehensiveness."

— Wall Street Journal

"Mr. Pipes provides invaluable background to today's headlines....Few efforts have been made to create such a comprehensive work.... Pipes is a pathfinder."

— The New York Times

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With erudition lightly worn, Harvard historian Pipes, in this massive, wonderfully vivid, gripping chronicle, stresses the role of liberals both in the Russian revolution of 1905, for which the Communists later claimed credit, and in the upheavals of 1917. He attributes the failure of the February 1917 revolution to Alexander Kerensky's rash actions, his doctrinaire vision of democracy and his dissolution of the police and the provincial bureaucracy, which plunged the nation into anarchy. He argues persuasively that the Bolsheviks' October 1917 putsch was not a true revolution, but a classic coup d'etat. His portrayal of the backward Russian peasantry, scarcely touched by westernization, and of the intelligentsia, ``self-appointed spokesman'' for over nine-tenths of the populace, lays the groundwork for his discerning analysis of how Lenin built a one-party dictatorship. No other book so brilliantly clarifies the inner dynamics of the Russian Revolution. Photos. (Oct.)
Library Journal
The author, a distinguished Harvard historian, seeks to present a comprehensive view of the Russian Revolution, tracing its roots in the half century before 1917, a period he has already examined in Russia Under the Old Regime ( LJ 3/15/75). His new book, which will also be published in the Soviet Union, should provoke lively debate in the age of glasnost, for it is an unsparing indictment of Bolshevism. Wide ranging in its coverage, based on a profound knowledge of the Russian past and of relevant Western and Soviet scholarship, the work analyzes the direction of Russian development to the Revolution (without whitewashing prerevolutionary figures such as Nicholas II), then goes on to examine the origins and entrenchment of Bolshevism, which Pipes sees as a savagely amoral force. If Soviet power in its first years brought any benefits at all, they are, in this evaluation, insignificant compared to the ghastly price paid for them by the Russian people. This is an important book.-- Robert H. Johnston, McMaster Univ., Hamilton, Ontario
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679736608
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/28/1991
  • Series: Vintage
  • Pages: 976
  • Sales rank: 544,733
  • Product dimensions: 6.11 (w) x 9.17 (h) x 1.95 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2002

    Equality in Russia

    Mr. Pipes has written here one of the best, most comprehensive works on the Russian Revolution. By the 'Revolution', he means the February 1917 popular uprising, not the Communist coup later that same year. His work highlights the tragedy that befell Russia- the combination of a mindless monarchy, spineless liberals, and power hungry leftists would create for the Russians decades of unprecedented slavery and misery. But at least everyone (except the Party higher ups) was equally poor and oppressed. Highly recommended, but be forewarned, this is not light summer reading.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This five star review is with serious reservations. If you are v

    This five star review is with serious reservations. If you are very interested in the Russian Revolution, this book is the definitive account. Not only does it demonstrate impeccable scholarship, but has a definite point of view. Pipes clearly does not like Lenin or Bolshevism. Because of his strong opinions, which show through in his writing, the book is more engaging than if he had worried about feigning objectivity. The Russian Revolution was tragic and evil, and set the stage for modern totalitarianism and genocide. Regrettably, too many historians who lean left of center, have white washed Russian Communism because they think it was merely a misguided attempt to stand up for the little guy. Perhaps, they think that there are lessons from Russia that will help us moderate the ill effects of Capitalism as if American capitalism and Russian communism are both in the wrong. They may both be flawed, but Capitalism is wrong like a traffic violation and Communism is wrong like genocide is wrong. It is refreshing to read a historian not afraid to vehemently attack a thing as clearly wrong, a vast crime. And so Pipes is thorough, detailed, with brilliant analysis. He is the big dog when it comes to the Russian Revolution. And he has definite opinions which he is not afraid to voice. No one can claim to be well informed concerning this issue without having read Pipes. So why the serious reservations about 5 stars? To slog through this tome you need to want to be a Russian Revolution expert. It is detailed to the point of tedium. You reach the conclusion with enormous relief as if you have been freed of a burden. The book has no sense of joy; it is dismal, dark even. The book is a triumph of scholarship, but the reader does not feel triumphant. So if you really want a detailed understanding of the cataclysm that left Russia with a single party state led by one of the 20th centuries great monsters, Lenin, the precursor to the worst of the 20th century Hitler, Stalin, Mao, then read this book.  

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2014

    I found this book to be exceedingly dry. The author relates endl

    I found this book to be exceedingly dry. The author relates endless details - facts and figures about Russia during the time in question - but fails to connect them into a cohesive picture until far too late into the book, if at all. He also uses many terms and concepts which he only bothers to explain later on in the book, leaving you scratching your head at the time.

    I also found the writing to be sterile and devoid of any of the personal reflections or focus on individuals that distinguish great history writing from boring, laundry list style history. Pipes pales in comparison to contemporary historians such as Boorstin and McCullough.

    There is a great deal of interesting and important information here, but the presentation leaves a great deal to be desired.

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